Welcome to PumpkinPalooza, the inaugural fundraising event for the Northern Nevada Center for Independent Living (NNCIL). Beginning at noon on Sunday, downtown Sparks will have its newest community event, plastering pumpkin paraphernalia on Victorian Avenue and kicking off the Halloween season.
The event will feature a Pumpkin Derby, carnival games, costume parade, live music and much more in an attempt to raise funds for the NNCIL, a 30-year organization serving people with disabilities in Sparks. Gail Faulstich, board member for NNCIL, said the inaugural event is very important to the organization in establishing its presence in the community.
“The potential for it to grow into a major fundraiser for NNCIL is huge, but right now it is what we call a ‘friend-raiser,’” she said. “I think that is really appropriate because what we want is those connections with the people and businesses in the community. We really are all about community and we want our consumers to be all about the community and we want the community to be in contact with us.”
The NNCIL has reached out to the City of Sparks and businesses along Victorian Avenue, who are no stranger to events in downtown, to reserve a couple of blocks for the fall festivities. The Nugget will provide pumpkin pies for the pie-eating contest, ghost stories will be told inside the “haunted” schoolhouse and fortune tellers will read the future from the historic train.
“A success will be a bunch of people coming out and having a good time, but honestly it is already successful because we have so many businesses and the City of Sparks already coming on board and helping,” said Jackie Shelton, marketing manager for PumpkinPalooza. “All the volunteers are really enthusiastic about helping and the local merchants are pitching in to help, so it has already shown success in that sense.”
Kat Wilson, chairperson of the board for NNCIL, said the community collaboration has brought the event from miniature to life-size and brings a sense of pride to the NNCIL.
“This organization has been here for 30 years, but this our first really big community event and it is about time,” Wilson said. “It is amazing how willing they are to come together for persons with disabilities. There is a real good-heartedness in Sparks and I have to say I am really proud to say ‘my city gets behind this.’
In its time in Sparks, the NNCIL has helped provide disabled people with accommodations to their homes in order to improve living conditions. They are also a link to the resources to provide funding for items such as bathroom handrails and wheelchair ramps, and the NNCIL has disability aids to loan to citizens. Faulstich said it is all part of improving quality of life for the community.
“We all need these kind of services at some point in our lives with our families,” Faulstich said. “This is a great place for us to say ‘we are here and we can do these things for you’ and to start becoming a face in the community again.”
The NNCIL also offers cooking classes for those trying to better their independence, which Faulstich said has now evolved into learning to manage budgets, shopping centers and public transportation. Rec Night at NNCIL offers the chance to socialize and play games and has become a popular event for the organization.
For more information about the NNCIL, visit www.nncil.org. For more information on PumpkinPalooza, a list of events and attractions, or to register for the Pumpkin Derby, head to www.pumpkinpalooza.org.