Carving out a tradition

For 25 years, the Livingstons held a Halloween pumpkin carving party in their Eastbluff neighborhood, but Saturday might have marked the final get-together among the neighbors on Arbutus Street.

October 29, 2011|By Britney Barnes
  • Darin Anderson, top, works with his son Luke, 8, bottom, carve a ninja pumpkin during Betsy and Dan Livingston's 25th annual pumpkin carving party.
Darin Anderson, top, works with his son Luke, 8, bottom,… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

In Newport Beach's Eastbluff neighborhood, there is a small street called Arbutus where neighbors know each other's names, have watched each other's children grow and get together every year for a Halloween pumpkin carving party.

After 25 years hosting the party that introduced neighbor to neighbor, Betsy Livingston, 50, is putting her yearly tradition to bed. Neighbors though can't say enough about what the mother of three has done to bring the street together.

"We're just thankful to the Livingstons for making our neighborhood feel like an actual neighborhood," said Jen Baker, who was helping her daughter Tessa, 7, carve a pumpkin heavier than her.

Livingston and her husband Dan hosted their final pumpkin carving party Saturday night. Children and parents sat on the floor of the three-car garage pulling out gooey innards and carving spooky faces into the orange gourds, while adults sat around tables talking on the front lawn and a TK Burgers truck served up dinner.


"We've been really lucky to have this for so many years," said Julie McCormick, who has been coming with her children for the last 13 years, adding later, "I'm bummed this is over. We're sad to see this end."

The tradition started in the late 80s when the Livingstons moved to Arbutus Street with their then 1-year-old son from La Crescenta.

Betsy wanted to do something for Halloween so she invited their next door neighbors, Karen and Bill Moore, and their 1-year-son son.

The parents carved pumpkins on the kitchen table while the children ran around in footie pajamas, Karen Moore remembered.

The next year the party got bigger and moved to the family room. Soon, there were too many people to keep the party indoors. Tables were set up in the front yard, pizzas were ordered and pumpkin carving took place in the garage.

"It just exploded," Betsy said.

But now Betsy and Dan's three children are out of the house and it's time for the family to end the tradition. Their two youngest children Dave, 19, and Leilani, 22, came home from college for the event.

Dave called it the end of an era, but Leilani wasn't sure it was really over.

"Something tells me the tradition will never quite end," she said with pumpkin in hand.

The final party was emotional and bittersweet, Betsy said as she watched children work in the garage.

Still, she said she hopes her children and her neighbors will continue with the tradition, and many of the party guests were speculating on the same subject.

"It would be fun to have it forever," Betsy said, adding, "but 25 is a good number."

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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