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Sunshine Shelly's Pumpkin Patch opens with COVID-19 precautions in Shawnee

Kelci McKendrick
It's pumpkin season.

Fall officially started on Tuesday, bringing the season of pumpkin spice and everything nice, but a lot of fall traditions will look different this year due to COVID-19.

One fall favorite is pumpkin picking, and it’s in full swing at Shawnee’s own Sunshine Shelly’s Pumpkin Patch, which opened Sept. 19. With COVID-19, this year will have a few tweaks to the pickings and other activities at the 30-acre pumpkin patch.

“We are social distancing, of course,” said Michelle Kozel, one of the owners of Sunshine Shelly’s. “We are outside, so that helps. We’re following the CDC guidelines and all that.”

Masks are “highly recommended” for adults, older children and teenagers, and younger children are encouraged to wear one “if they please,” but Kozel said as long as everyone follows the social distancing guidelines, they are not required.

A Facebook post from Sunshine Shelly’s states that the ticket booth and concession stand lines will be spray painted every six feet to help encourage social distancing, and hand sanitizer will be provided to visitors before they participate in some of the activities.

Sanitizing bottles will be available throughout the farm, and pumpkin cutters and wagons can be returned to the tent where pumpkins are weighed so the workers can sanitize them, according to the post.

Kozel and her husband Tony had a few fears about opening this year when COVID-19 hit in March, which is when the Kozels usually start preparing for the season before planting in June.

“We just kept on doing what we’ve been doing,” Kozel said. “We went ahead and planted our pumpkins on the hopeful side that we could open. It all worked out in the end to where we could.”

The patch has regular, mini and pie-sized pumpkins available for picking, Kozel said. Pumpkins are 40 cents per pound, and Kozel said an entry fee will not be charged for those who are just picking pumpkins.

Kozel and her husband Tony opened the patch in 2013, growing more and more each year. This year, the opening day turnout was the biggest it had ever been, according to a Facebook post from Sunshine Shelly’s.

Activities at the patch including a corn maze, a hayride, a barrel train for kids, a pumpkin bounce house, a duck race, a corn pit, a kid’s hay maze and a haunted corn maze will all still be available this year with extra safety precautions, Kozel said.

Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children ages 2-12 and free for children 1 and under with one paid adult admission. The haunted maze is $12, and the fast pass for it is $17. 

Sunshine Shelly’s Pumpkin Patch, 7110 N. Harrison Ave., is open from 4-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 4-10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 1-6 p.m. Sunday. The patch opened on Sept. 19 and will run through Oct. 31. More information can be found on the patch’s Facebook page.