Donations collected for Mr. Pumpkin statue

By Maria Ahmad

Wally Thurow, known as Mr. Pumpkin, will be missed in the coming Sycamore Pumpkin Festival, but loved ones are working to keep his spirit alive.

“Over 50 years ago, he approached the Lions Club with a simple concept of having a family event with pumpkins and carving,” said John Swedberg, chair of the Wally Thurow tribute committee.

The Pumpkin Fest is not just a time for autumn family fun, but also a weekend for non-profit organizations. Non-profits have the chance to set up booths and sell food and trinkets to benefit their cause. The tribute committee is made of representatives from many of these non-profits.

“My family thinks that it is a great salute to him and something he would have been extremely honored by,” said Amie Schwellenbach, Thurow’s granddaughter. “He started something that will be a legacy in Sycamore forever.”

The memorial will be a bronze, life-size statue of Thurow and his high wheel bicycle. The exact look of the statue is still in the works. It will be placed on the corner of Somonauk and Elm streets in hope of obtaining the best visibility throughout the year.

“We don’t anticipate unveiling the memorial until Pumpkin Fest 2014,” Swedberg said. “Fundraising can take time. Casting a bronze statue also takes time.”

The committee has set up a Wally Thurow Memorial fund with the DeKalb County Foundation and non-profit organizations will be approached personally for donations. Mailings and brochures with more information will be sent out.

Other short term memorials include T-shirts with the slogan, “Never Forget who started it all.” The proceeds will go toward the tribute. A book about Thurow and the Pumpkin Fest has also been published.

“The truest measure of his legacy will be the continuation of the yearly festival after he is gone,” said Jerome Perez, Pumpkin Fest committee secretary.