Crafting a Halloween niche

Denise Wright

Students carve pumpkins as hobbies, marriage proposals

Click, click, click. A sound strangely similar to that of a pen click fills the room as an orange poker is thrust repeatedly into a pumpkin.

In the corner of the kitchen, an episode of “Friends” is playing, but Cydny Renner, a senior integrated science education major, is focused solely on finishing her pumpkin.

Her skeleton earrings jingle slightly as she adjusts the pattern she’s holding against the orange squash, but for the most part, her hands do all the moving.

Once she has the pattern in place, she picks the “pokey guy” back up and begins punching again.

“It’s really not very technical,” Renner said. “This one’s got another 15 to 20 minutes or so.”

When it’s finished, the pirate-faced gourd will join the other three pumpkins, this year’s collection, on her wooden back porch.

“I do at least one (pumpkin) every year,” Renner said. “But I usually do three or four.”

Renner said she’s been carving pumpkins seriously for about six years, but she picked up the hobby from her mother several years ago.

“She was really into it, so I just picked it up from there,” Renner said, reaching for a tiny saw.

She held the saw against the outline of the eye and began grinding it back and forth against the pumpkin. Juice seeped out and ran down the pumpkin. She worked diligently, alternating poking and sawing, until the pumpkin was complete.

Renner said the average pumpkin-carving session takes her about an hour and a half, depending on how intricate the pattern is.

“It’s not an exact science,” Renner said. “It’s just picking what looks good. Anybody can do it if they just try.”

Proposing via pumpkin

Even with planning, most pumpkin-carving sessions last for less than two hours, though some may last longer. For Kyle von Carlowitz, a senior human movement major, the session was months in the making.

Kyle spent all summer saving money for a ring so he could propose to his then-girlfriend, Allison Beaulieu, a junior nursing major. He was finally able to buy the ring at the beginning of October.

At the time, he didn’t have an idea of how to propose. Kyle said several ideas popped into his head, but none of them seemed quite right – until he came up with the idea of carving ‘MARRY ME?’ into pumpkins.

Kyle said the idea was fitting for many reasons.

“We both love fall, and Halloween is her favorite holiday,” Kyle said. “And last year I carved ‘I love you’ into a pumpkin, so it was similar to that.”

The timing couldn’t have been better because the couple, along with a few of von Carlowitz’s family members, had planned to go to Patterson’s Fruit Farm in Chesterland around mid-October. This enabled Kyle to get his family on board with his plan.

“I had everything set up in my mind,” Kyle said. “I just needed help putting it together.”

Kyle, with his brother Clay, headed to the farm about two hours in advance to begin carving the pumpkins. The rest of his family came about an hour and a half later to help with the final touches before Beaulieu arrived.

When she showed up, Kyle told her to close her eyes before taking her to the spot where he had everything arranged.

“I set up near this really beautiful scene, so I told her I wanted to close her eyes so it wouldn’t ruin the view,” he said.

When she finally opened her eyes, Kyle was on his knees, and the pumpkins sat atop four bales of hay that were set up in a semi-circle around her. Kyle’s efforts paid off when Beaulieu said “yes.”

“I knew it would be something she would like,” Carl said. “Plus, I knew we’d be going back there, so in a few years we could go back with our kids.”

Three roommates, one new tradition

While some may prefer to carve pumpkins on their own, others choose to make it a household event.

That was the case for three girls who live together at Pebblebrook apartments. Erin Balash, junior special education major, Janine Banas, junior speech pathology and audiology major and Elizabeth Flarida, junior human development and family studies major decided to make carving pumpkins a roommate-bonding activity after Balash suggested the idea.

They bought pumpkins and set a time to carve them, because their schedules vary so much, Banas said.

When the night arrived, they set up shop in their kitchen, tools and all. Flarida and Balash had already decided to use an ‘Ohio State’ stencil from a kit Flarida had purchased.

“Janine is from Pennsylvania, so she refused,” Balash said. The girls laughed in unison.

While Banas opted to stick with the typical face, Flarida and Balash began on their Ohio State-themed masterpieces.

But Balash said she decided to switch gears after experiencing some difficulty with carving an ‘O.’ She used the other side of the pumpkin for a face, instead. Flarida said she also had some difficulty with the detailed logo and decided to use nails to keep it pinned together.

While they didn’t have the most success with their pumpkins, the girls still agreed they had a good time and even planned on making pumpkin-carving a new tradition.

“It was fun,” Balash said with a smile. “We stayed up making pumpkin seeds. It was like an all-night thing.”

Contact features reporter Denise Wright at [email protected]..