Scott Cully's Giant Jack-o-Lantern from Alex Kratz on Vimeo.
Video: Scott Cully talks about engineering challenges in carving giant pumpkins, his vision for this particular pumpkin and some of the tools he uses.
As an Oregon farmer, Scott Cully grows one of nature's smallest fruits: blueberries. But his passion in life -- or "quest" as he calls it -- leads him to the world's largest pumpkins, which he transforms into the world's largest jack-o-lanterns.
This weekend, Cully's quest brings him to the north Bronx's New York Botanical Garden, where he is molding the latest record-breaking pumpkin, raised in Wisconsin and driven here in the back of pickup truck, into a spooky and somewhat gory three-faced jack-o-lantern (he talks about his vision in the video above).
The giant pumpkin-carving bug bit Cully on a sunshine-drenched fall day in 1988 when Cully was living in Hartford, Conn., where he grew up (he now lives in Eugene, Ore.). After harvesting a 400-pound pumpkin from his personal patch, Cully sat down with his wife, a "smoking hot" pitcher of apple cider, a bunch of knives and went to work. He took the jack-o-lantern to a Halloween party that night. It was a hit. He's been carving enormous pumpkins ever since.
Cully says he usually carves about 10-12 pumpkins a year; at casinos, shopping malls and county fairs throughout the United States. "I always try to find the biggest pumpkins," he says.
The gregarious Cully started carving today. This afternoon, he posed for photos with Garden visitors, making faces and stabbing motions toward his latest creation. He will be working publicly tomorrow during the day and finishing up on Sunday around noon.
"It's great, I've never seen anything like it," said Garden volunteer Marge Graham.
Flanking Cully's piece will be almost-as-big pumpkins carved by local pumpkin-carving artists Michael Natiello (who is turning into a furrowy-browed, big-eyed face with a stem nose) and Sara Mussen (hers will consist of spiders and spider webs: "a little creepy but not too scary"). Natiello and Mussen work together carving pumpkins in Westchester. They are working on the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze at Croton-on-Hudson's Van Cortlandt Manor.