Harvest Festival: Then and Now


Valerie Diep, Staffer

Spooky season is creeping closer and closer each day. For Mariner High School, that means Harvest Festival is approaching. Harvest Festival is a safe place where children as young as preschoolers can celebrate Halloween. Thanks to previous ASB advisor Ruth Pratt, we know it started in 1996, but from there, it seemed to take on a life of its own.

It began with the Mukilteo YMCA asking Mariner’s leadership classes for help to create some sort of event for Halloween. Pratt’s leadership class jumped for the opportunity because YMCA explained that they would fund everything so long as the school provided students and ideas. 

“The funny thing was,” Pratt commented, “the whole thing took place in the [main] gym. We expanded to the hallways and then to the whole building.”

The reason for Harvest Fest’s expansion was the mixing of lines for the booths in the cramped space. Although it solved the overcrowding, Pratt explained that the expansion got overwhelming with the increased domain of Harvest Fest and not being able to supervise all the teenagers and children. To solve this new problem, they brought in clubs and their advisors to assist. Even rival Kamiak got involved, having members of their Honor Society and Key Club at Mariner to help with the event. 

“I would guess they probably have at least three times as many booths as we have started.”

Pratt mentioned an interesting tidbit about the props that Harvest Fest uses. Many of the wooden props used for booths, such as the pumpkin bean bag toss, were made during the first five years by manufacturing technology classes. It demonstrates how there were many people outside of leadership and clubs contributing to the event. 

However, there were, at some points, where Harvest Fest wasn’t around. This is where the timeline of Harvest Fest gets foggy. 

Jainaba Jawara, our ASB Vice President, stated that “Harvest Festival was established in 2004… Harvest Festival stopped a couple of years after 2004 because of problems like not having enough supervision and students to help out.” 

Rebecca Porter, one of Mariner’s administrators, explained that by the time Harvest Fest was revitalized during the 2012-2013 school year, it was some time since the event had been alive: “None of the students that had been in attendance knew of it.” 

Nicholas Angelos’s account, however, said that Harvest Fest was revitalized before 2012 and stopped only for two years from about 2008-2010. 

Whatever story you believe, Harvest Fest since then has been recurring consistently. Between times, Harvest Fest was initially called the Halloween Carnival. It was later changed, according to both Pratt and Angelos, to be more inclusive, as seen in Jawara’s case. Jawara can celebrate more freely, as her religious background makes it, so she’s not supposed to celebrate Halloween. It almost has become a tradition in the local community. 

“Families will just know, ‘Oh yeah. Year after year, we can take our kids to Mariner High School sometime around Halloween,’” Pratt said. 

As for this year, Jawara explained that Harvest Fest won’t have any significant changes. It’ll continue to have booths with high school volunteers such as the haunted elevator, twister, wheel of fortune, and the fashion show run by cheer. 

“I’m a junior, so I’ve been in the leadership program since freshman year, and I’ve seen how they’ve done it. I wanna keep it the same way because I like it.” 

There’s a misconception that people from only clubs and leadership can volunteer. Usually, on the week of the 20th, Jainaba would hold a meeting and allow anyone to participate, even if you are not involved in a club and “just want to do it for the greater good.”

To get in, you’d need to bring in a can of food for Mariner’s food bank; it’s a way to help support Mariner students who are on free and reduced lunch. Because Harvest Fest is mainly intended for children in elementary school or younger, middle schoolers, and, especially, high schoolers are not well suited for this event.

“It’s not for them. It’s intended for littler kids,” Jawara confirmed,” We make flyers to go out to elementary schools. It’s not advertised towards anyone higher than fifth grade. [For high school students], if you want to be here, I’ll put you to a table and get work done. Maybe you can bring your [younger] sibling. That would be okay.”

Harvest Fest will be on the same date as Halloween, which is somewhat unfortunate since it’s late on a weekday. However, this has been an opportunistic event to be more involved and work together to support a community. Don’t be afraid to take action to help out this year!