With two final messages and his usual gentle antics, Pumpkin Man said good-bye to Charlotte Central School last week on Halloween. Along with the local mysterious figure’s dismissal, school principals also cancelled the annual Halloween parade, and the final time the holiday was celebrated at school had smiles, tears, and a gentle, loving message from the man of the hour.

After he came out of the woods with his lady by his side, Pumpkin Man set to work unrolling and planting two banners for the children, who waited patiently, some passing the time by chanting “Save Pumpkin Man!”

The first banner said, “Take care of the earth.” The second, “Be kind.”

School officials decided to roll out new security procedures that day, with several police officers, one in a bulletproof vest and one with a dog, keeping an eye on the parade and the crowd. Principal Stephanie Sumner said there was no threat to the school, but that it just happened to be the first time after the new procedures had been created that there was a school event.

A group of eighth-grade boys wore pumpkin heads and overalls in solidarity with Pumpkin Man, and former teachers and a previous school principal were in attendance—several with tears in their eyes as the 32-year tradition came to an end.

After his time was done, with a wave, a rattan suitcase in one hand and his gal’s hand in another, Pumpkin Man walked back into the woods on Pease Mountain, stopping for a final wave as he disappeared into the trees, leaving behind waving children, decades of memories, and a message of kindness and stewardship that will last for years to come.