Hundreds walk during last Saturday’s annual Maywood Fine Arts Pumpkin Patch Parade in Maywood. Below, MFA founder Lois Baumann during the Oct. 8 event. | Spooner Baumann/Spooner Photography
Thursday, October 13, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
A sea of orange flooded 5th Ave. last Saturday during Maywood Fine Arts’ annual Pumpkin Patch Parade — the first held since the popular community arts nonprofit opened its new Stairway of the Stars dance studio at 20 N. 5th Ave.
Before this year’s walk, community members were treated to a tour of the brand new facility, which is situated on a site that, less than a year ago, was an empty lot.
“The kids are excited,” said Taiyana Shurn, an MFA dance instructor. Shurn said the new building, which officially opened in August, only presented minor logistical changes to the festivities. The dancers, she said, are on cloud nine within the new space.
Shurn channeled the jubilance of parents and students like Carmen Perry and her 10-year-old granddaughter Nadia Bradley.
Perry said the new studio has given Nadia a little more space to breathe. The active 10-year-old will need it. She’s involved in multiple activities at the popular Maywood institution.
“My grandbaby is learning how to play the piano, she’s in contemporary tap dance and tumbling — she likes everything,” said Perry, who lives in Maywood. “She’s been involved with [MFA] since she was three years old. Since then, they’ve just grown and grown.”
Stephanie McLemore, who said she’s been a member of MFA’s board of directors for close to a year, noted that this year’s Pumpkin Patch was her first as a director.
“I used to own a salon in the same building where MFA is in,” McLemore said. “So I’ve always had an investment and interest in the community. My best friend used to dance with Stairway and she’s a board member. Through her, I fell in love with Lois and Ernie, their vision and how they’re building up the community.”
Shurn said the Oct. 8 event, which coincided with Proviso East High School’s Homecoming Parade, was itself a homecoming in a way.
The day’s featured performers, the world-renowned Dunk Doctors, pictured right, are spearheaded by MFA alumnus Andrew Cyrus, who along with his fellow performers left the crowd spellbound with their high-flying, above-the-rim pyrotechnics.
This year may have also signaled a turning point. The Pumpkin Patch Parade generated so much buzz that Jacqueline Reed, the founder of the Westside Health Authority, one of the largest nonprofits on the West Side of Chicago, traveled to Maywood on a reconnaissance mission of sorts.
“This is such a positive thing that we want to see if we can do something like this in Austin,” Reed said. VFP
If you took photos at the event, you can purchase them by clicking here.