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Big or small, bright or pale, whatever your pumpkin preference there's surely one for you at this sale of 2,500 gourds at St. Paul United Methodist Church. pages 8-9

The annual pumpkin sale at the St. Paul United Methodist Church at Highland Avenue and Rosery Road is under way. -Volunteers for the church youth group unloaded 2,500 pumpkins and put them on display Oct. 11. -It took three hours for 65 volunteers to unload the semitrailer truck and display the pumpkins. -Money from the sale will benefit the church's youth ministry. Overall, there are about 30 youth group volunteers working at the site. Included at the sale is a hay chair where you can take pictures of family members in the hay bales and with pumpkins.

If you go

Pumpkin time

What: St. Paul United Methodist Church's Pumpkin Patch.

Hours of operation through Oct. 30: noon to 6 p.m. Sunday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday.

Where: 1199 Highland Ave. (at Highland and Rosery Road)

Cost: Prices range from 75 cents to $15.

Want to get in the holiday spirit?

Take in a classic.

The 1966 animated special It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown features the Peanuts gang celebrating Halloween, with Linus hoping that, finally, he will be visited by the Great Pumpkin.

The half-hour show airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday on ABC.

How to extend the life of a jack-o'-lantern

-Wipe the exterior surfaces of the pumpkin clean using a damp cloth.

-Make a bleach solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach per quart of water and put it in a spray bottle.

-Spray the pumpkin inside and all cut areas of the pumpkin with the bleach solution to kill the bacteria and mold that cause rotting.

-Let the solution penetrate for about 20 minutes and dry.

-Rub all of the carved or cut surfaces with petroleum jelly to keep out new bacteria and molds as well as dramatically reduce the dehydration.

-Wipe away excess petroleum jelly with a paper towel.

-Keep your pumpkin out of direct sunlight and try to keep it as cool as possible.

Fast facts

-Pumpkins can range in size from less than one pound to more than 1,000 pounds.

-China is the leading producer of pumpkins, squash and gourds, with 28 percent of annual world output during 2003-05. The United States ranked fifth with 4 percent of world production, just behind Russia and the Ukraine.

-Top pumpkin production states are Illinois, Ohio, California, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania.

-90 percent of the pumpkins grown in the United States are raised within a 90-mile radius of Peoria, Ill., according to the University of Illinois.

-Morton, near Peoria in central Illinois, is the self-proclaimed Pumpkin Capital of the World. (Think Libby's canned pumpkin; the processing plant is there.)

Agricultural Marketing Resource Center and Vegetables and Melons Outlook. Economic Research Service, USDA

By the numbers

43,200 acres devoted to pumpkin farming in 2007.

$117-million the estimated value of those acres' pumpkin crop in 2007.