The Great Pumpkin and 'Pumpkin Man's' statue; all those helicopters

On a recent walk past the Dominic T. "Nick" Venetucci statue adjacent to the Pioneers Museum I counted 26 pumpkins. Are these started from seed or plants? Who plants them and when? And what happens to the mature pumpkins?

" Chris J. Hermes

ANSWER: Oh Great Pumpkin, is it you?

Not quite. The pumpkin seeds, usually a couple of packages, are planted around mid-May and the city waters them. They're usually small to medium pumpkins, just like those the "Pumpkin Man" planted for the kids from this area to pick.

The pumpkin fairy is Beth Ortiz, manager of Downtown Business Improvement District, who said the district agreed to do this when area residents, many of them school kids, raised the money for the sculpture after Venetucci's death in 2004.

Who harvests the pumpkins? Well, if Ortiz is quick enough, she does it herself. Sometimes, just like this year, she goes over to pick some pumpkins before they're too big and they've already gone home with someone else.

Ortiz will finish the pumpkin season by cutting down the vines.

What were those helicopters?

It was amazing Monday when a large number of Army helicopters flew in formation over the city. What was happening?

--Amy

ANSWER: They had just returned from training in Fort Irwin, Calif. It was a squadron of 16 AH-64D Apache helicopters heading home to Fort Carson.

Why zig when you can zag on I-25?

Just south of the Woodmen/I-25 interchange, near the overhead electronic sign near Zio's restaurant, all three lanes of southbound I-25 jog about 5-6 feet to the left. The diversion widens the right breakdown lane and nearly eliminates the left breakdown lane. There are no obvious visible reasons why the lanes need to make this unusual excursion, and I think it presents a traffic hazard. Drivers cruising down the interstate are expecting the road to continue in the usual straightforward manner.

-- Bob Bean

Colorado Department of Transportation spokesman Bob Wilson explained, "The City maintains that overhead sign and the highway lights. Instead of having to close a lane every time they do operations work, there is that jog which allows space for city crews to park their vehicles when they have to work on the sign or the lights.

This will all go away when I-25 becomes four lanes in the future."

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