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Pumpkin Magic - carving a jack-o-lantern

How many pumpkins will you be carving this Halloween? One? Two? How about 150?

That's no big deal for the gang that shows up at Roger Holtorf's house every year. Roger and his family live in Vienna, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. "We put on the biggest pumpkin party anywhere," says Roger.

Roger grows the pumpkins in his garden, gathers them all up, and then invites his family and friends to a carving party you wouldn't believe.

The day before Halloween, Roger's driveway and garage are crowded with pumpkins and people. Altogether, the pumpkins weigh as much as three cars, or more than 10,000 pounds. "It takes 30 people a total of about 500 hours to carve them all," Roger says.

These aren't simple little pumpkin faces either, as you can see from the photos on pages 4 and 5. Most of the patterns come from a company called Pumpkin Masters, Inc. And it takes a lot of time - and patience- to get a great cut-out.

But in the end, all the hard work pays off. Crowds gather from miles around to see the big show. Up and down Roger's driveway, the jack-o- lanterns light up the faces of the happy visitors. Parents say, "Oh, wow!" Kids say, "Excellent!" And everyone gets into the spooky spirit of Halloween.

So, what happens to all the pumpkins after the holiday? They go back to the field where they grew. "They rot away and make the soil richer," Roger explains. And that will help make a great crop for next year!


Warm candlelight turns these carved pumpkins into glowing works of art. A coiled dragon (left) and a wolf (right) really make the Halloween season come alive!

Jack-o-lanterns like these are part of an amazing display every year near Washington, D.C.


It takes the right tools, the right patterns, and lots of patience to make pumpkin magic. Can you find this spider pumpkin finished on pages 2-3?


What You Need

- Pumpkin

- Pattern

- Tape

- Knife

- Ice cream scoop

- Pencil, ballpoint pen, nail, or any other pointed tool. Or use a sewing pattern wheel.

- Small saw with pointed tip.

Note: You can buy patterns and carving kits from a craft or variety store, or order from Pumpkin Masters (address at end).

What You Do

1. Cut open the top of a pumpkin and clean out the inside. Scrape the inside surface with an ice cream scoop until smooth.

2. Tape a pattern to the side (above). Then use a pointed tool to make dots in the pumpkin's skin along all the pattern lines. Or roll along the lines with your pattern wheel (below). Remove the pattern and save it so you can look at it while you carve.

3. To cut lines, use your saw. Push the saw down through the skin. Then move it straight up and down along the lines of dots (below).

Be Careful!

Always ask a grownup for permission and for help when carving pumpkins or lighting candles.

For more information on patterns, tools, and other supplies - and to get a free pattern - go to the Pumpkin Masters, Inc., Web site at www.pumpkinmasters.com.

You can also write to them at P.O. Box 61456, Denver, CO 80206

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