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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

Celebrating 106 years

Former Sandston resident Mildred Taylor celebrated her 106th birthday Aug. 9. Taylor, who now lives in Powhatan, is still a member of Sandston Baptist Church. She was visited the day after her birthday by several members of the church, who played for her a recording of the entire church membership singing happy birthday to her during worship. > Read more.

YMCA breaks ground for aquatic center

YMCA officials gathered last week to break ground on the new Tommy J. West Aquatic Center at the Shady Grove Family YMCA on Nuckols Road. The center, which will featured 7,600 square feet of competitive and recreational space, including water slides, play areas for children and warmer water for those with physical limitations, is the fourth phase of a $4 million expansion at the facility. West was president and CEO of Capital Interior Contractors and a founding member of the Central Virginia Region of the Virginia Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. > Read more.

Rotary donates to ‘Bright Beginnings’

The Sandston Rotary Club recently donated $1,000 to the Sandston YMCA for its Bright Beginnings program, which helps provide children in need with school supplies for the new school year. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Journey to mediocrity

‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’ fails to capitalize on tasty concept
The Hundred-Foot Journey is a curious little Romeo and Juliet of a film. A family, forced out of their native India, begins a trek across Europe.

The family’s sole mode of transportation sputters and dies in a sleepy little French town, but the town’s food culture is high, and that’s a perfect place for a family of restaurateurs to settle down. There’s only one problem – the family’s rustic “Maison Mumbai” is right across the street (a hundred feet away, if the title didn’t clue you in) from a prestigious French bistro with a Michelin star, run with an iron fist by the dreaded Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren, pictured).

It’s here that a particular Romeo and Juliet story begins to develop, with Hassan (Manish Dayal) on the Indian side and Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon) on the French side. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


Enjoy the final days of summer with comedian Guy Torry, the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour or mystery writer Mary Miley Theobald at Twin Hickory Library. Another great way to welcome the beginning of fall is to check out the UR Spider Football season opener with man’s best friend. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Bottoms up

Short Pump brewery offers more than just beer
I am still (happily) thinking about my entire experience at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery last week. Knowing nothing about this new brewery out of Denver, I was leery of brew-pub in the heart of Short Pump Town Center – this is not what I’d usually think of as a perfect fit, and yet, it was.

The restaurant and craft brewery opened in early June and features 10 beers made by female brewmaster Becky Hammond (pictured). This is the restaurant’s second location in Virginia; the first is in Arlington. Behind glass walls, customers watched the beer brewing in massive steel barrels. For our up-and-coming beer region, it makes sense that Short Pump would jump on board.

As I walked up to the back of the mall near the comedy club, I was taken aback by what I saw: at the top of the stairs was an overflowing restaurant with outdoor seating, large umbrellas and dangling outdoor lights. > Read more.

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