Monday, November 02, 2009


I like Halloween. A lot. And finally we seem to be in a neighborhood that at least gets some trick-or-treaters and people, you know, put out a pumpkin or two. Also, we no longer have the Miami jungle miasma that visibly rots your pumpkins before your very eyes.

So I went all out on two pumpkin ideas this year.

First up, the "William Tell Missed Pumpkin". I was inspired by this 'Carrie' pumpkin by Rob Cockerham of the wonderful (check out his Halloween costume for this year!). But I wanted to do something different. So it began with a large-ish pumpkin. Rule One in proper pumpkin carving is to largely forgo the knife in favor of power tools. Jigsaws work great. Removed a big plug from the bottom to hollow out the pumpkin. Used paper taped on the surface, a sharpie to draw the design, and a push-pin to poke holes along the design, then the jigsaw to cut it all out. Cut some channels in the bottom of the pumpkin to let the pump cord out and water back in. The arrow hole was cut with a drillbit. Inside the pumpkin was a small fountain pump (145 GPM) that I had, and a length of tubing reaching to the arrow hole. In went an old arrow I had around, carefully chosen to fit in the tube. Set it on a cookie sheet and ran water through it... Success! Outside it went and the water was replaced with a fresh half gallon mixed with 2 packets of Cherry unsweetened Koolaide and one Black Cherry.

It was quite a thing.

When it got darker I stuck a candle in there, but it really is better in daylight. If I made the 'blood' any thicker I worry the pump might not handle it, but in the dark the koolaide was too transparent. Also, my pump was probably a bit overkill... I had it turned low as it could go but the added pressure of the arrow in the tube did spray some koolaide around and it took some tinkering to get the flow right. Actually, it worked pretty great without the arrow. But something about it just didn't sit right. Somehow the arrow to the head is cheeky and fun, while gunshots to the head are cruel and tragic.

Number Two: the Devil Pumpkin.

Here it is with a single candle. Fairly impressive. The horns were parsnips and there's a red jalapeno sticking out like a tongue. I was pretty well pleased with it but I thought it could do better.

Road Flares! That's more like it. The smoke and ominous hissing this thing made were almost as good as the flashing red light spewing out of it. Highly recommend road flares for lighting pumpkins. They last a good 15 minutes, they cost me $1.79 each, and they are just damn impressive. And since they burn bright but relatively cool, after all they are designed specifically to not light the side of the highway on fire, they will scorch the pumpkin but won't burn through it. Just get a pumpkin big enough to fit it. Also flares are just plain fun to light for some reason. This was pretty great but as the night wore on I thought we could do better.

There we go! The final fuel of the night is an old Boy Scout signaling technique: a roll of toilet paper that's been soaked in kerosene! This shot flames about 3' out the top of the pumpkin for nearly a half hour. I only soaked the roll for about six hours too, it might burn longer if soaked overnight. When the wind shifted it would belch flames out the eyes of the pumpkin.

It was quite a thing.

And now an appropriately timed word on Halloween Safety. This pumpkin was out in the middle of the lawn, away from the path the little trick-or-treaters would be on, and had no overhanging obstacles to, you know, catch fire and burn the place down. Also we had a fire extinguisher and hose on hand because if Boy Scouts taught me anything other than how to light fires, it was how to also put them out. These weren't needed, it didn't even scorch the grass around it, but better safe than sorry.

Also, we stayed outside to monitor it. Which was kind of nice actually, it was reasonably warm around the fire. I was worried that it would burn up within a few minutes but the pumpkin held its own. At the end it was somewhat worse for wear, a bit blackened with soot in places, but otherwise fairly undamaged. Pumpkins are mostly water after all. I bet it could have withstood at least another roll.

Next year: Angry Tiki God.


Trish said...

My hat goes off to you Big bro... my jack o lantern is now dehydrated and as it continues to dry up and fall in on itself, it looks more and more confused... I do miss the ominous mold of a NW jack o lantern's demise though...

Russell Hews Everett said...

Hah. Well at least we have a huge compost bin that the city picks up.

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