Lanes Chapel pumpkin patch funnels money back to community

“I just think it’s a neat thing and wanting to be able to do my part to maybe create some more happiness,” Robert Mercier said.
The Pumpkin Patch Express is just one of the fun activities at the Lanes Chapel Pumpkin Patch this year. This is their eighth year and Stephen O’Neal, minister
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 5:16 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 28, 2022 at 11:20 PM CDT

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Fall festivities are in full swing at Lanes Chapel United Methodist Church in Tyler and their pumpkin patch provides more than just fun.

The Pumpkin Patch Express is just one of the fun activities at the Lanes Chapel Pumpkin Patch this year. This is their eighth year and Stephen O’Neal, minister to students, said the proceeds go to different ministries around Tyler.

“Whether it’s outreach ministries of our church, different ministry organizations. We have a Boy Scout troop that meets here and they always help us unload the pumpkins, and we make sure to give donations back to that group,” O’Neal said. “We have lots of groups, whether it be the homeschool area kids, or different clubs from high schools.”

There’s no fee to get into the patch and all activities are free, from yard games, to photo opportunities, and the train. This is Robert Mercier’s second year being the conductor for the popular attraction and he said it brings him joy.

“Seeing the smiles on the little kids, the excitement, and it kind of reminds me of yesterday. Of course there’s the smiles and the cameras, and the pictures from mom and dad, they take them,” Mercier said. “I see a lot of goodness, a lot of happy faces, a lot of happy things going on, just from a little ride in a train.”

O’Neal said their trucks come from New Mexico and they haven’t suffered any major impacts to their patch due to the drought.

“We’ll get at least one more delivery, most likely two more deliveries. So as soon as the pumpkins come off the truck, we’re selling,” O’Neal said. “We have people in an assembly line, we had over a hundred people helping us unload the truck, most of them not even a part of our church.”

Last year the church gave away more than $35,000 in scholarships.

“We don’t charge any money to come to the pumpkin patch, it’s just a thing where our volunteers love to help, and we just love to be something that people can do it the fall,” O’Neal said.

On Saturday they had more than one hundred people in an assembly line helping unload the truck.

“I just think it’s a neat thing and wanting to be able to do my part to maybe create some more happiness,” Mercier said.

The next pumpkin delivery will be on October 8. They’re anticipating about 2,500 more pumpkins and gourds to choose from. The patch is open through Halloween, or until all items are gone.

The church is on 8720 Old Jacksonville Highway. The patch is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.