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The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch - Sleepy Eye, MN
  • Peter Chianca: It’s the not-so-Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown?

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  • It may be a holiday classic, but some parents are saying “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” should be retired from the airwaves. The “Today” show’s Moms blog reported that Buzz Bishop, known online as DadCamp, recently wrote at Babble.com that the show sends the wrong message to children because of its “continuous teasing and bullying.”
    — WCVB.com, Oct. 25
    MINNEAPOLIS - Authorities have charged a local couple with child endangerment after neighbors reported they let their 7-year-old son sleep in a pumpkin patch alone on Halloween night.
    Fred and Nancy van Pelt of Roseville, a suburb of Minneapolis, were arrested at their home after their son, Linus van Pelt, turned up at the James Street Elementary School still suffering from the effects of hypothermia and muttering under his breath about being forsaken by a “Great Pumpkin.”
    “The poor kid - he was clearly delirious,” said Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fincher, who referred the case to the county’s Child Protective Services department. “He had an old ratty blanket that he had wrapped around himself, and he was just shaking and mumbling.”
    Residents said they spotted the boy several times in a neighborhood pumpkin patch the night before, sitting among the pumpkins as his friends were enjoying tricks-or-treats. He was primarily alone, but was seen for a time accompanied by a neighbor, Sally Brown, 5, who is now being questioned by police psychiatrists.
    Neighbors said that the boy believed he would be visited in the pumpkin patch by a so-called “Great Pumpkin,” who would present him with toys. His parents may have fostered this charade as a form of psychological torture, authorities believe.
    Ownership of the pumpkin patch has not been determined, but several local residents have noted that it has always seemed “extremely sincere.”
    Police are also looking into the well being of other area children who, after tricks-or-treats, apparently attended a Halloween party with no adults present. There, several girls allegedly drew a jack-o-lantern face on the head of a local bald boy; they are now facing charges under Minnesota’s recently enacted bullying law.
    One of the girls in question, whom authorities declined to name, described their victim as a “stupid blockhead,” apparently showing no remorse.
    Sheriff Fincher says the same boy may have been the victim of a conspiracy among neighborhood parents to give him rocks instead of candy when he came to their doors on Halloween. “I can’t imagine what kind of sick, twisted person would do that to a poor child,” said Fincher, “even if his baseball team did go 0-20 and give up 3,040 runs this year.”
    As for Linus van Pelt, he and his siblings have been removed from their parents’ custody and been placed temporarily in the care of a teacher at James Street Elementary, Miss Jane Othmar. “Frankly, [Linus] seemed thrilled about it,” said Fincher.
    Page 2 of 2 - The van Pelt parents were later released on their own recognizance, according to authorities. When reached by a reporter, they declined to comment in comprehensible English, instead making a series of “MWA MWA MWA” noises, not unlike a muffled trombone.
    Peter Chianca is editor in chief for GateHouse Media New England’s north-of-Boston newspapers and websites. A version of this column ran previously at CAP News (cap-news.com).

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