S Dwight Smith lends his creative touch to a jack-o-lantern in the making
Even as they scrambled toward the makeshift pumpkin patch, the children called out dibs on their jack-o-lanterns to be.
"That one's mine!"
"I want the big one!"
Eight Tampa Bay Buccaneers players waited for the excited kids back at a stand of picnic tables. There, the hand-picked pumpkins would become Halloween centerpieces through the creative work of the children and their new Buccaneer friends, Tim Brown, Michael Clayton, Greg Comella, Jason Garrett, Chris Simms, Dwight Smith, Dewayne White and Jamel White.
That was the scene this week at the Children's Home, where the Buccaneers' Halloween Party has become a highly-anticipated annual event. Once again, players got an early start on their Halloween celebration while helping to put smiles on the faces of the appreciative kids at the Home. The party was for kids ages six to 18 and it featured trick-or-treat bag designing and face painting in addition to the pumpkin carving.
Creating the jack-o-lanterns remained the center of the event, as the Buc players and their friends worked hard to create Halloween masterpieces from the selected pumpkins. At the end of the party, a contest was held to select the best jack-o-lantern and the best trick-or-treat bag design. The two winning residents were awarded a football signed by each of the players at the party.
Forget the prizes, though; a couple of the players were happy simply to make it through the carving process.
"This is my first time actually carving a pumpkin, so it was fun for me," said Dewayne White. "The kids pretty much knew what to do, but I tried to help them the best I could."
Jamel White wasn't as thrilled with his first experience inside a pumpkin, although he still had a lot of fun with the kids. Some of the pumpkins he helped decorate ended up with painted faces rather than actual carvings.
"I don't like carving pumpkins because the inside is gooey and nasty," he said. "If I could just carve the tops out of the pumpkins, that would be good."
Still, everyone had fun celebrating Halloween, children and players alike. The kids enjoyed the party atmosphere and were thrilled to hang out with some of their favorite Buccaneers. The players were rewarded by the looks of excitement all around.
"It's always good to come out here with the kids and give back to the community," said Simms. "I love kids. Any time I'm around kids it's fun, and it brings a smile to my face."