‘Mr. Pumpkin’ memorial to be unveiled


Wally Thurow, known as Mr. Pumpkin, poses in the mid-1990s during the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival. A statue of Thurow, who helped found the festival, will be unveiled today to help start this year’s Pumpkin Festival.

By Mitchell Spence

A statue created to honor one of the founders of the Pumpkin Festival, Wally “Mr. Pumpkin” Thurow, will be unveiled today to help kick off the festival.

Pumpkin Festival Committee President Jerry Malmassari said Thurow never stopped thinking of ideas for Pumpkin Fest. Thurow, who died Feb. 8, 2012, had been a staple at the festival since its beginning in 1962 with the assistance of Thurow and the Sycamore Lions Club, according to the Pumpkin Festival website. Thurow started putting decorated pumpkins on his lawn in 1956, leading to the creation of the festival.

Thurow “was a very passionate and — I don’t mean this in a bad way — a crazy person,” Malmassari said. “The pumpkin festival represents the community of Sycamore and its family values.”

Malmassari said the statue, which has cost about $60,000, needs landscaping work at a later date. The life-size bronze statue of Thurow was designed by Elizabeth-based artist David Seagraves.

The statue features Thurow and a penny-farthing bicycle like the one he rode during the festival parades.

Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy said Thurow would ride around the festival’s parade route on his penny-farthing bike while wearing a vest covered in Lions Club and festival patches every year to entertain children and adults.

“Wally’s background was real diverse, but he was a success at business and had a heart as big as a pumpkin,” Mundy said. “He was young at heart even as he got into his later years. That’s what the tribute to Wally epitomizes: good, clean fun for children and adults both at Halloween.”

The festival will begin at 5 p.m. today on North Maple Street in Sycamore by the DeKalb County Courthouse.

“It’s gonna be a special year cause Wally is back in town,” Mundy said.