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‘Pumpkin’ stars at Lakeside picnic

Former elementary school principal writes children’s book
Author Bill Pike (left) visits with a fan.

Former Lakeside Elementary School Principal Bill Pike was the star attraction at the L.E.S. fall picnic Oct. 11, drawing as many well-wishers as he did customers to his book-signing booth at the event.

Appropriately timed for trick-or-treat season, Pike's newly-published children's book, The Last Pumpkin, tells the story of a journey to select a pumpkin for Halloween. The story centers around the last-to-be-picked pumpkin, Keeper, and around themes of acceptance and love.

Joining Pike at the event were the book's publisher, former L.E.S. student Wayne Dementi, and illustrator Nell Chesley – like Pike, a long-time Henrico resident. Early in the evening, Dementi took a look at the long line of people waiting to get their books signed and observed, "This is a testimony to the endearing qualities of Bill Pike."

As if to back him up, one former parent stepped to the front of the line to greet Pike with a grin, and began to reminisce about the time he wore a ballerina's tutu to encourage academic achievement. The next parent to reach the front of the line, Denise Dysert, announced, "I'm buying [a book] for myself, and three for friends."

After the book-signing, Pike noted that 62 books were sold at the picnic, almost tying the event record of 65. But the book sales were secondary, said Pike, to his delight at "seeing familiar faces that I hadn't seen in awhile."

In addition to enjoying encounters with current students who came to the event, Pike said, he found it exciting to visit with students from the days when he was principal.

"It was amazing to see how much they had grown," he said, "and to learn about their journeys in high school."

On the day before the event, Pike also enjoyed being a part of the school's morning announcements and reading the book in three classrooms. "That was a lot of fun," said Pike, "as the students really displayed good listening skills."

A long-time elementary school educator, Pike worked in Virginia public and private schools from 1975 thru 2010, spending 27 years in Henrico County as teacher, assistant principal, and principal. He, Chesley, and Dementi worked collaboratively for almost two years to create The Last Pumpkin, which Pike said was inspired by his parents and the family that surrounded him growing up in North Carolina. "I was very lucky," he said, "to have a supportive environment."

Although he called the book project a "great learning experience" overall, Pike remarked that being at the community picnic was especially gratifying. "[Lakeside Elementary] is such a special place for me," he said, expressing appreciation for current principal Herb Monroe's efforts to pull together the event with the help of Henrico County Recreation and Parks and the Lakeside PTA (which received a donation from the book's promoters).

So is there a The Last Easter Egg or The Last Christmas Tree in the works? Pike was asked.

"Nell and I have talked about working on another book," he responded. "And I have some drafts in progress that might become a book. Only time will tell."

The Last Pumpkin, written by William A. Pike and illustrated by Nell Chesley, is available at http://dementimilestonepublishing.com


Community

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden raises admission $1

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s admission has increased by $1 across all categories. Admission is now $12 for adults; $11 for seniors ages 55 and older; and $8 for children ages 3–12. Admission remains free for children ages 3 and younger and for members.

The last price increase was in 2011, before the Garden consistently hosted Butterflies LIVE! (which is included with admission). > Read more.

Garden tails

The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.

Western Henrico Rotary helps fund Midwives For Haiti Jeep


Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.

The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.

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Entertainment

US Army Field Band to perform in Henrico Aug. 3

The United States Army Field Band will present a free public performance at Deep Run Park in Henrico on Sunday, Aug 3 at 3 p.m.

Members of the band are soldiers who also serve as “musical ambassadors of the Army” and perform for schools and communities nationwide.

The Concert Band will be performing along with the Soldiers’ Chorus. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


Take in a show at several locations this weekend! West End Comedy will provide laughs at HATTheatre; the production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes” will close Sunday; and the youth theatre company CharacterWorks will present “Footloose” at The Steward School. Another show perfect for the kids – “Despicable Me 2” is playing at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center tonight. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Is there an Echo in here?

‘Earth to Echo’ aims to become this generation’s ‘ET’
It’s no secret that all found-footage genre movies are the same. Grab a couple of characters, give one of them a camera, and expose them to something supernatural that’s content to lurk just off-screen until the last five minutes. Everything else will just fall into place.

But that formula isn’t particularly family friendly, if only because that thing waiting a few feet to the left of the cast is usually plotting their violent doom.

That’s what sets Earth to Echo apart from the pack. It, too, follows a group of characters armed with a camera and a tendency to encounter unknown life forms. But all those familiar parts have been rearranged just enough to make it suitable for a much younger audience. > Read more.

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