Windsor

Tecumseh pumpkin memorial and celebration still growing after 8 years

The pumpkins and spooky display in front of a Tecumseh home have become a tradition for the family who lives there after losing a son to cancer. Eight years after the tradition began, others now find solace in the yearly exhibit.

Others now contribute pumpkins and decorations to remember their loved ones

Roch Ethier sits with one pumpkin of many displayed on his front yard in Tecumseh. This one bears the image of his son Daniel. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

The pumpkins and spooky display in front of Roch Ethier's Tecumseh home have become a tradition for his family, after losing their son to cancer.

Now, eight years after it first started, others also are finding solace in the yearly exhibit.

Ethier's son Daniel died in 2013 from cancer at the age of 14. His favourite time of year was Halloween and he especially loved carving pumpkins.

"I belong to bereavement group and I thought this is just perfect for them as well," said Ethier said. His group meets for one day to carve pumpkins and decorate his yard.

"We celebrate the lives of our children together."

The pumpkins for Daniel display has now been running for eight years and Ethier says he plans for it to continue. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

The display started out modest enough, but has grown quite a bit over the years, Ethier said. "Daniel would be dancing with joy, he would be loving this."

A growing memorial

Ethier also grows giant pumpkins in Daniel's honour and this year he managed to produce seven big ones, the most ever. One of them bears the letter K for another friend Ethier said he lost to cancer just last week.

"It's a memorial, it's also a celebration to celebrate their lives and thank them for all their memories that they created and that we shared together." 

They just want to bring a pumpkin to remember Daniel or to remember someone they loved that passed away.- Roch Ethier

Ethier made sure to point out the creative choices some of the people from his grief group made to bring some spookiness to his front yard: from a bathroom crime scene with a pumpkin sitting on a toilet to a parade of spooky dolls. 

"People have some fairly morbid tastes in some of their decorations," Ethier said with a chuckle. "But it's all for fun." 

The display is a neighbourhood hit, Ethier said, with kids stopping by for the experience and adults honking their horns as they drive by or stopping by to take pictures and ask questions.

Creativity is definitely on display in Ethier's front yard. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

"I've got people dropping pumpkins, I don't even know who they are but they've heard about it," he said.

Ethier said depending on the year, he gets anywhere from 150 to 250 pumpkins, though this year, because of COVID-19, he's not sure how many to expect.

"They just want to bring a pumpkin to remember Daniel or to remember someone they loved that passed away." 

Ethier says he usually gets between 150 and 250 pumpkins. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

About the Author

Jacob Barker

Videojournalist

Jacob Barker is a videojournalist for CBC Windsor.

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