Rotarians Hear From Spider Hunters Jasper And Emerson Holmes, LAPS Choirs Pumpkin Patch Fundraiser Chairs

Spider Hunters Emerson, left, and Jasper Holmes introduced Spider Hunters, their new business, to Rotarians just before Halloween.  Mother Karen Holmes assisted. Photo by Linda Hull

During a late October Rotary presentation, Celina Long, president of the LAHS Choir Booster Club, and volunteer Stephanie Grube described some of the choirs’ most unusual varieties for sale at the pumpkin patch. Photo by Linda Hull

Vice President
Rotary Club of Los Alamos

In the spirit of Halloween, the Rotary Club of Los Alamos hosted two presentations on October 25.  Jasper and Emerson, sons of Karen and Matt Holmes, began by describing their business, Spider Hunters.  The two brothers were inspired to create their own business after reading the Encyclopedia Brown series with their parents in which the protagonist starts his own business in the family garage.  The boys’ mother explained that “the kids had also come up with this idea of ‘animal care/spider care’ where they would capture lizards and spiders for a short time and feed them and observe them.  Combined, those interests became Spider Hunters – people could hire them to catch spiders. Over the summer, they caught and relocated numerous wolf spiders, black widows, and cat-face spiders.”

Dressed in Halloween costumes as a Ghostbuster and a policeman, Jasper and Emerson told about the spiders they catch.  They had let most of them go already, and the others were “lost,” provoking a patient grimace from their mother.  However, they did bring their Spider Hunters gear with them, including a see-through habitat box and other small supplies for catching the insects needed to feed the spiders until released.  This often includes ants, beetles, and crickets.

The Spider Hunters were extremely well-prepared, alternating back and forth with a presentation they had written.  They spoke quite knowledgably about spiders, their characteristics, and habits.  

Jumping spiders, with their large, forward-facing eyes, are the boys’ favorite spiders because “they are so cute.”  (Think Muppet.)  When asked what spiders they find most fearsome, they replied they “only have arachnophobia about” two non-native species:  the Sydney funnel web spider (Australia) and the six-eyed sand spider (southern Africa).

There was a little disagreement about how much money the brothers have made–$40 or $60–but they had made $4 just the day before.  Their prices have gone up to 50-cents per spider.   What are they saving their money for?  Wait for it. . . .  A pet tarantula.  ☺

The Spider Hunters conduct their work only outside; they do not enter homes.  Currently their services are limited to the Broadview neighborhood on North Mesa.  

Jasper Holmes is 9, a 4th grader at Los Alamos Online Learning Academy. He likes playing Minecraft, making cool projects out of cardboard, and riding his bike.  Emerson is 7 and homeschooling 1st grade.  He enjoys imaginative play and Minecraft.  Together, the Spider Hunters have caught dozens of spiders and have, in the process, helped their mom overcome her arachnophobia.

Although Spider Hunters is a hard act to follow, Celina Long, president of the Los Alamos High School Choir Boosters Club, and committee member Stephanie Grube, easily captured Rotarians’ interest as they then described the organization’s Annual Pumpkin Patch Fundraiser. 

The pumpkin patch has been an annual fall fundraiser for over 10 years, they explained, and supports the activities and programs of both the Los Alamos middle school and high school concert choirs and Bel Canto.  “Choir students can then reach their full potential through choir competitions in-state, within the U.S. and abroad.”  Together the two schools have approximately 85 students enrolled in the choir programs which are led by director Jason Rutledge.

On Saturday, October 16, an 18-wheeler rumbled into Los Alamos from Navajo Farms of Farmington, carrying over 3000 large and small pumpkins. The large pumpkins were piled “high and loose” inside the truck and unloaded one at a time; the small pumpkins were held in large bins.  More than 40 students and their parents unloaded the golden globes onto 70 pallets already in place at the patch, “piling the pumpkins three or four layers deep into pumpkin pyramids.”

A vintage pickup truck and hay bales, with an old cottonwood tree in its finest leafy gold, lent a decorative background for the colorful delivery.  Sales began the next day; a festival with student craft sales, face-painting, and other activities brought crowds on the 22. 

Long and Grube described the often underappreciated variety of pumpkins available for culinary and carving purposes.  In addition to the familiar Jack o’ Lantern pumpkin, other varieties, offered in a range of colors from orange and pink to green and white, were Frankensteins, Cinderellas, spookies, knuckleheads, snowballs, gizmos, minis, and snowflakes. The long-necked swan gourds, smooth and knobby, twisted and full of personality, are always a popular favorite.

Overall sales were projected to bring a profit of over $7000.

For more information about the Choir Booster Club, please contact Celina Long, president, (713) 449-4785.

The Rotary Club of Los Alamos, through its Club Foundation, is a 501(c)3 non-profit and one of over 34,000 clubs worldwide.  Rotary, which now has 1.5 million members, was founded in 1905; the local Club was chartered in 1966.  Rotary areas of focus include promoting peace; fighting disease, particularly polio; providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; supporting education; saving and enhancing the lives of mothers and children; growing economies; and protecting the environment.

The Rotary Club of Los Alamos meets in person Tuesdays, 12:00 p.m. -1:00 p.m., in the Community Room, Cottonwood on the Greens, at the golf course.  A Zoom option is available by contacting Linda Hull, Rotary Club vice-president, (505) 662-7950.  Hull is also happy to provide information about the Club and its humanitarian service.  The community is invited to attend meetings and become members.