BALTIMORE—Local restaurant manager Brad Conner signed up for a PumpkinZonia.com membership Monday, attracted by the irresistible lure of 10 completely free, no-strings-attached Prismatic Pumpkin Points, which he can spend as he sees fit.
"It's official," Conner told reporters. "I'm one of the thousands who have made PumpkinZonia their new Internet home. A week ago, I hadn't even heard of the place, but today I address you as a bona fide member of the Pumpkin Public."
According to Conner, he first discovered PumpkinZonia last Tuesday, when he was surfing the web and a Flash game inside a banner advertisement invited him to test his skills hurling pumpkins at an animation of musician Kanye West. Conner determined that he must have performed well at the task, because before he knew it, he was being offered 10 free Prismatic Pumpkin Points to be paid directly to his PumpkinZonia account upon activation of his free membership.
"I remember thinking, 'Wow, finally some good luck: free membership and free points all at the same time,'" said Conner, who within five minutes had joined the site and collected his points. "It was too good to pass up."
Upon logging in, Conner was dazzled by the wide range of features available to PumpkinZonia members, especially the communications network, which allows him to meet with friends in a fully functional chat room and send messages to any members who have "yessed" him on his Pumpkin Pad.
"It supports different emoticons and everything," Conner said. "And if that weren't enough, I can give my friends Pumpkin Pokes to let them know I'm online. I can even send what they call 'Virtual Gifts,' anything from Pumpkin Pies to Jack-o'-Lanterns, all for a very reasonable number of Pumpkin Points."
"And I would have missed out on it all if I hadn't been offered those free points," he added.
In addition to his online windfall, Conner named a host of other benefits he received for joining, including a free Pumpkin Point Piggy Bank to keep his wealth safe from Pumpkin Prowlers; a virtual one-story house on an acre of PumpkinZonia real estate; up to three free rides per day on the Pumpkin train to any destination in the Upper Patch; and the ability to customize his in-game avatar.
"My avatar looks like me if my head were a pumpkin, and there's all these free clothes to select from," Conner said. "But if I want customized hats or shoes, they cost Platinum Pumpkin Points."
Acknowledging that he may well be the luckiest member in the history of the young site, Conner said he recently learned that his in-good-standing membership status grants him countless chances to earn still more points.
"PumpkinZonia has all these business partners who want to help go-getters like me load up on points," he said. "All I have to do is take a survey, sign up for a promotional offer, or, simplest of all, type in my cell phone number. That keeps the good news coming, because then more great offers get sent directly to my phone before anyone else even knows about them."
Added Conner, "I can't believe everybody in the world isn't doing this."
Conner confirmed he has not yet decided how to spend his points, but said that he might splurge on a Giggling Gourd, which he would be able to display on his in-game lawn, where all his neighbors can to see it. Alternatively, he has considered converting them into Purple Points to spend at the arcade.
"I really like the PumpkInvaders game," he said. "But what's really exciting is, I can do anything I want with the points. At least until next month, when they expire."
Conner is reportedly also excited about opportunities for promotion and improved status within the PumpkinZonia community, which increase the more he participates. He was unable to suppress a smile when noting that, although he has been a member for less than a week, he is already a level 3 Pumpkin Patron.
"The higher your level, the more Pumpkin Kash™ you're eligible to win in the daily lottery, just by signing in," said Conner, explaining that Pumpkin Kash™ is a PumpkinZonia currency distinct from Pumpkin Points, and is exchangeable for an entirely different range of online services and products. "You can use Kash™ to get PumpSkins for your favorite web browser, to put up billboards in downtown PumpkinZonia, or even to buy a Platinum-Plus membership, which gets you access to more activities and a lot fewer ads."
"And best of all, even more points!" he continued. "I can be Platinum for a whole month if I manage to rack up P-10,000 in Pumpkin Kash™, or pay $40."
Conner explained that he can also acquire vast sums of points by simply encouraging his friends and family to join him as registered PumpkinZonia members, a process he discovered was easy once he allowed the site access to his directory of e-mail contacts. According to Conner, if he succeeds in getting 12 Pumpkin Pals to sign up, he'll earn 400 Prismatic Points. So far he has one friend on board and is "waiting to hear back from 20 or 30 more."
Whatever may happen with the new points, Conner acknowledged that his membership could not have come at a better time.
"I have a weeklong vacation coming up, and I was beginning to worry that I'd just waste it," he said.