MARION — Amidst cornstalks, gourds and pumpkins, their presence was felt — the howling, prowling, creepy, crawly creatures of Halloween.

Scarecrows, witches, monsters, bats and a haunted mansion greeted preschoolers through fifth-graders from Marion Elementary School on Thursday and Friday as they visited Christie’s Potting Shed and Florist to select special pumpkins for their classrooms.

The quest for the perfect pumpkin is an annual event for the students.

This is the 13th year that Christie Prielipp, owner of the Potting Shed, has transformed her greenhouse into the delightful Pumpkin Patch, an imaginative display simply oozing with all things scary and fun.

“I do it for the kids and I like doing something for the community,” said Prielipp who dressed in a friendly witch costume to welcome her visitors. “It’s fun watching how the kids grow up and change over the years.”

And all afternoon they arrived, one grade after another. Accompanied by teachers and parents, they enjoyed the whimsical decorations, searched for just the right pumpkins, and snacked on yogurt treats provided by Yoplait USA Inc. of Reed City.

The Parent Teacher Organization coordinated the scheduling and logistics of the event, provided volunteers to assist and contributed funds for the purchase of the pumpkins.

“It’s nice that the kids get out in the fall and have this adventure,” said organization president Jennifer Krchmar, “and it’s great that Christie does it for them.” “My thanks to our members Monique Ashby and Lisa Neuman who were here to set up distribution of the snacks and hand them out to the kids.”

The safety of children crossing the streets was supervised by a father and daughter team. For over 10 years, Dean Chamberlain of the Marion Community Fire Department and his daughter Valerie Eckert have participated in the Pumpkin Patch event, stopping traffic and guiding children safely to their destination.

“It’s a fun day,” said Eckert, “and it’s a chance for me to spend time doing something with my dad.”

Children, parents and teachers all appreciated the lively spirit of the day.

Kindergartner Emilee Robbins perhaps said it best. “I have fun,” she said, “because I like the pumpkins and scarecrows and I like helping to choose the pumpkin for our class.”

“It’s great to get the kids out in the fresh air,” added kindergarten teacher Nicole McCrimmon. “The minute the kids hear about this day, they start looking forward to it. They are excited about picking out their pumpkin.”

The Pumpkin Patch remains in the greenhouse through Oct. 31; it is open to the public. Everyone from Marion and surrounding communities is invited to visit the haunted realm Prielipp has created.

Stop by and shop for gourds, pumpkins, gifts and decorative items or simply browse in the charmingly spooky atmosphere.

Christie’s Potting Shed and Florist is at 321 S. Mill St., Marion. Open seven days a week most of the year. For further information call (231) 743-6267.