If you drive down West Woodside Avenue in Buffalo, you’ll see some homes decorated for fall. If you keep driving, you’ll see a Thin Blue Line American Flag hanging at 118 W Woodside, and a whole lot of blue pumpkins.
A year ago this month, Buffalo Police officer, LT. Craig Lehner passed away after he drowned during a training exercise in the Niagara River. Nestled inside the sea of blue pumpkins on W. Woodside, there’s a picture Lt. Lehner. All of them are there in honor of him.
“Today we have over 300 right now ready to go, but we’re expecting about 600 more,” Allison Milligan said.
The hundreds of pumpkins were donated, along with all the blue spray paint.
“Words can’t even describe how people feel and made us feel,” she said. “The community has really come together. Everybody has been great and so supportive and can’t stop thanking us. It’s just been wonderful.”
Lt Lehner loved his K-9, Shield. So, all the proceeds from these pumpkins will go to what was so near and dear to his heart.
“So there’s paw prints on the pumpkins, because this year we’re donating to the K-9 unit, so we thought that would be a nice twist.”
There are no price tags on the pumpkins, the Milligan family just asks you to donate what you can.
And you may remember the blue pumpkins from last year. Milligan says she’s the one who started that trend.
“I painted some pumpkins and brought them down to the waterfront, with a couple other friends, and this is how this took off.”
Milligan sold the pumpkins last year, and gave all the proceeds to Lehner’s family. Her husband was a good friend of Craig’s.
“My husband served in the military for many years, he was close with him.”
Her husband was deployed the day Lehner went missing. He wasn’t there for his friend’s funeral service. So this month, and for years to come, this is how the family will honor the man who gave so much to his community and country… one can of spray paint, and one pumpkin at a time.
“Show support for the law enforcement, the K-9 unit, and turn Buffalo blue.”