Photo: Pumpkin … or problem?
Nothing signals fall than the appearance of the winter squash known as the pumpkin.
From mid-September to Thanksgiving, the humble pumpkin is a star; in the kitchen – pies, breads, spices and seeds – and especially for its aesthetic value: what doesn’t evoke the season than a slew of pumpkins on the stoop or a jack-o-lantern by the front door on Halloween? Nothing comes close.
But this year, the pumpkin is getting a cold shoulder in one of Belmont’s neighboring communities and it doesn’t have anything to do with cancel culture.
In Watertown, town officials are advising residents to chuck the real thing and replace it with plastic or ceramic orbs when decorating their stoops and gardens. The reason: rats. Well, rats and other vermin that have been sweeping through the town as if it was 14th century Hamelin.
Many homeowners have complained over the past year of an increase in rodents in a community has been a hot spot of commercial and town construction projects that disrupt them in their underground habitats. Shorter winters have allowed rat couples to have more babies and there’s the problem.
According to Larry Ramdin, Watertown’s public health director, the friendly urging from the town – it is not in anyway a mandate – is an attempt to remove a ready source of food for the local rodent population and that includes the orange squash.
“We have observed rat problems last year around this time. We are being proactive,” Ramdin told the Boston Globe.
“Did you know that putting pumpkins and other edible decorations outside your home can provide food sources for rodents?” Watertown health officials wrote in a Facebook post. “This year, please consider plastic decorations to help prevent rodents on your property and in Watertown.”
Belmont has also had its fair share of ratty issues in the recent past. A few year’s back, Joey’s Park in the Winn Brook neighborhood became a rodent housing complex with numerous underground burrows and the streets around Grove Street Playground have seen a sizable uptick in rats from overburdened trash containers and a problematic house on a nearby street.
But rest assured, the town’s Health Department is happy to tell residents they can keep the real thing this fall.
“At the moment we do not have reason for concern about Halloween pumpkins or any related outdoor activities,” said Wesley Chin, the Health Department’s director.