Menlo Park's own pumpkin patch on El Camino Real at Valparaiso Avenue, owned by Ronald Pantano of San Mateo, just got 390 pounds of pure gourded beauty delivered to its grounds. This hefty attraction comes in the form of the pumpkin awarded the "best-looking" prize at the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival on Oct. 12.
Mr. Pantano acquired the pumpkin from its grower, Eric Carlson of Portola Valley, and says the pumpkin will be for sale. Mr. Carlson is a longtime pumpkin grower who won the best-looking pumpkin award from the Half Moon Bay pumpkin festival for the fifth time this year, and whose biggest pumpkin was grown last year and weighed in at 1,637 pounds. He won the state record for biggest pumpkin in 1994.
According to Mr. Carlson, the pumpkin was grown at the Portola Pastures horse ranch and was only 60 days old when it was harvested. The secret to growing good-looking pumpkins, he said, is to make sure it grows "Cinderella style" ■ with the stem pointing up.
Mr. Pantano's pumpkin patch, which has committed to giving 10 percent of its proceeds back to local schools through the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation and a Menlo-Atherton High School scholarship fund, is a one-year venture that will convert to a Christmas tree farm for the holidays and then into a Super Bowl merchandise vendor before the area is developed into a hotel, he said.