Carving Up Some Huge Halloween Fun

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - October 19, 2011
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Edward G. Moody aka ‘Pumpkin Ed,’ pictured here at his Michigan home with one of his giant jack-o’-lanterns, is coming to Honolulu for the Pumpkin Festival Saturday at Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. Photo courtesy Edward G. Moody

I really didn’t intend to write about pumpkins two weeks in a row, but a conversation with Edward G. Moody changed my mind. Ed fell in love with pumpkin carving when he was 6 years old.

“I can still remember saving up to buy a pumpkin and carving it myself,” he says. “I guess I’ve always wanted to re-create that joy for other people.”

But it wasn’t until his sons were born that he decided to take his hobby to a new level. He dreamed big and started saving again.

“I had this idea to create Cinderella’s carriage,” he says by phone from his home in Frankfort, Mich., “and I just kept thinking about it every year until I found a 590-pound pumpkin selling for $1 a pound.”

Thirty-one hours later, Cinderella’s carriage, carved entirely from pumpkin, was in his front yard.

“I don’t really know why I wanted to do it,” says the affable Moody. “I just knew I had to.”

Today “Pumpkin Ed” spends his time carving and creating sculptures using everything from soap to wax, and ice to plastic, but it’s the giant pumpkins that remain his favorite. Carving sculptures from pumpkins of 1,000 pounds or more, Moody spends most of the holiday season traveling, carving and raising money for children’s hospitals.

So, when Billie Gabriel, creator of the Pumpkin Carving Festival, heard of Moody and his unique agenda, she couldn’t resist.

“I just called him out of the blue and asked if he’d come to Hawaii,” she says.

And the man who admits the only reason it takes him all day to carve a pumpkin is because he loves to talk to people so much was entirely lost for words.

“I am stunned,” he says, of his invitation to be guest of honor at the Pumpkin Festival this coming weekend at Blaisdell Center.

“I will go anywhere I can to raise money for children,” he says, “but never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be going to Hawaii.”

You can meet Moody, watch him carve, and get some help and tips from culinary and arts students Saturday, Oct. 22, when you attend the family day or evening events.

Moody is bringing three pumpkins with him weighing in at more than 1,000 pounds each.

“It’s been a little stressful organizing their delivery,” he says, “but they are definitely on their way.”

Event sponsors fortunately include Matson.

The giant pumpkins are grown mostly in Michigan, from a seed known as Dills Atlantic Giant Seed developed by a grower named Howard Dill. The seeds, which seem more suited to a Roald Dahl (Willy Wonka author) story than an agricultural catalogue, are the size of a grown man’s thumb.

But you really don’t need to take my word for it. Head over to Blaisdell Center this Saturday and join in the festivities. Moody will be carving three pumpkins, and for a $30 admission fee you get your own pumpkin (donated by Safeway), a carving set and lots of expert advice.

“We have chefs and culinary students and art students all here to help families carve a great pumpkin,” says Gabriel, who hopes that as well as raising money for children’s charities, the event also will inspire new family traditions.

Corporate teams will compete Friday night for a grand prize and carving bragging rights. For more details and to fill out an application form, go to

Hurry, though, there are only 1,000 pumpkins to be carved and they’re going fast.

Happy eating!

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