Morgan Hill pumpkin patch increases security presence amid mass shootings

Bay Area

MORGAN HILL (KRON) — The Morgan Hill pumpkin patch opened Saturday — a whole week earlier than usual.

But, that isn’t the only change they made this year.

With the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting still fresh on visitor and organizers minds — the festival is stepping up security.

But the extra presence was hard to come by.

Organizers said after a couple of months of being told no by Santa Clara County sheriff’s, they were able to reach an agreement late this week — placing uniformed deputies in and around the pumpkin patch.

And their presence was welcomed by visitors.

“It’s always in the back of your mind these days,” a visitor said. “As sad as that is, but definitely something you think about.”

Sheriff’s vehicles parked out front and deputies walked the grounds.

“I was pretty happy to see the sheriff’s here,” Sara Castaneda said. “We’re from Gilroy so we got a little shooken up. But to drive up and see sheriff’s around and stuff, it makes me feel safer to bring my kids here.”

Day one of the annual Morgan Hill pumpkin patch was a bit quiet — so it was easy to notice the increased security.

“We hire our own security with armed guards, but we wanted that uniformed presence and extra added step to make everyone feel safe,” organizer Crystal Melton said.

Melton said getting the officers on the festival grounds wasn’t easy.

“When we first started reaching out to them, they didn’t offer it and weren’t willing to negotiate with us,” she said. “It was kind of disheartening in the light of everything that happened in Gilroy.”

The sheriff’s office said though it’s not their usual policy to contract deputies out to private events — by Wednesday they agreed to help.

“And they will absolutely be here on hand for us every weekend,” Melton said. “I want everybody to be rest assured that they will be safe here. We’ve taken every single possible precaution we could.”

The pumpkin patch will be open through Oct. 31.

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