PIEDMONT -- On a warm October day, while children played soccer at Coaches Field in the background, a little girl picked through pumpkins and gourds searching for the perfect jack-o-lantern.
"I will look for the more medium (sized) ones because I like the shape," said 9-year-old Nora Alderman as she pushed past a green, blistered gourd. "I don't like the weird-looking ones."
Nora and her father, Jason Alderman, were volunteering at the annual Wildwood Elementary School Dads Club pumpkin patch, which opened Saturday and will run through Oct. 31. (Alderman is a contributor to The Piedmonter, writing the DVD column.)
The patch at Coaches Field on Moraga Avenue will be open from 4 to 6 p.m. weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. Proceeds from the pumpkin sales will go toward filling funding gaps for auxiliary subjects at the elementary school, such as art, technology and music. The Wildwood Dads Club boasts a membership of more than 50 fathers, said Alderman, who, in addition to hosting fundraisers, also provides in-kind labor.
"It makes it easy for a guy like me who works during the day," Alderman, who has been a member of the Dads Club for seven years, said of the volunteer efforts. "It provides us the opportunity to do stuff."
On Saturday, Wildwood Dads Club members arrived at the public field early to dress the gray parking lot in bales of hay bales, orange and white pumpkins, yellow squash and green gourds. Brightly colored boxes adorned the patch.
This year, the Wildwood Dads Club added Square technology, which will allow purchases to be made via credit card. Alderman said he hopes that will increase sales as many parents who bring their children to the field for soccer don't anticipate needing cash on hand. The pumpkin patch also has a giant pumpkin, and customers are invited to guess its weight for a chance to win it.
As small children poked through the piles, Nora helped her father put out more pumpkins and chatted freely about her Indian princess costume this year and her favorite Halloween treat -- Kit Kat bars. Although few customers had purchased pumpkins on the first day, Alderman said that if tradition upholds, sales will increase in the coming weeks.
"We just started today, and the hot weather has people not really transitioning into the Halloween mindset," Alderman said. "The last weekend is traditionally the busiest."