MECHANIC FALLS, Maine — Hold off on making plans to visit Pumpkin Land this fall. Operators of the company’s Facebook page took back announcements that said the business would reopen Saturday, two years after a teenager died in a hayride crash.
“After much discussion with family and staff this week, we have determined that it is best NOT to reopen the fall venue this year,” Anna Bolduc, daughter of former owner Peter Bolduc Jr., said in a post on the company’s Facebook page. “We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. We wish all of you the best and thank you for your continued support and understanding.”
Attempts to contact Peter Bolduc by telephone Thursday were unsuccessful.
A Sept. 17 Facebook post seemed to promise the venue would reopen Saturday, almost two years to the day after 17-year-old Cassidy Charette of Oakland died in a hayride crash at Harvest Hill Farm on Route 26.
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“Pumpkin Land and all of the hard work put into it by two families over twenty years will live on,” the post stated. “While it is modified, a change of venue and name change, the integrity and quality of the family event will continue on.”
The venue has had a difficult time since the Oct. 11, 2014, crash that killed Charette.
Mortgage holders of land and buildings at 125 Pigeon Hill Road/Route 26 in Mechanic Falls, which included Pumpkin Land and The Gauntlet hayride, bought back the property from the Bolducs’ Andover Covered Bridge LLC at an auction in July.
On Tuesday, the man who drove the Jeep in the fatal hayride was found not guilty of reckless conduct by a Sagadahoc County Superior Court jury after 2½ hours of deliberation.
The operators still face a wrongful death lawsuit, filed by Randy Charette, Cassidy Charette’s father. The wrongful death lawsuit claims damages against the company and Peter Bolduc.
Facebook friends and supporters seemed excited to see the Pumpkin Land venue return in some form.
The first post, dated Sept. 17, drew dozens of comments and was shared more than 500 times.
“Great news!” commented a Rumford woman. “We absolutely adore this place.”
Comments to Thursday’s post that the venue would not open were more low-key.
“Am so sorry such a tragedy had to happen,” commented a Poland woman. “My heart aches for your family, as well as all families involved. It was a terrible accident that no one could foresee.”
A Bridgton woman wrote, “So sorry, sad for the families that were affected by last year’s tragedy, sad for the loss of a beautiful young girl, sad for the driver of the jeep, sad for the owners. There will never be a good outcome from what happened. Maybe as time goes on, the time will be right to reopen.”