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Waddington residents showcase pumpkin-carving talents

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WADDINGTON — Residents gathered near the village’s only traffic light Saturday night to bask in the glow of more than five dozen jack-o’-lanterns and painted pumpkins.

Carvings of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, owls, a creeping hand, the word “eek!” and a Christmas tree stared out at them, as did SpongeBob SquarePants and Scooby Doo.

The 26th annual Great Lighted Pumpkin Display drew 64 entries this year, up nearly 30 from the year before, according to organizer Nancy M. Putney, treasurer of the Waddington Chamber of Commerce. Both children and children-at-heart are allowed to enter, she said.

Judges viewed several rows of pumpkins and voted for the most traditional, most original, funniest and scariest designs; winners walked away with cash prizes.

The event allows Waddington residents to showcase their talents in a public space, Ms. Putney said. Instead of sitting on front porches across Waddington on Halloween night, the pumpkins were gathered in one place for the entire community to enjoy.

“This is a fabulous year,” Ms. Putney said of the collection. “They did a great, great job.”

Bailey R. Giorgi, 6, stared at her painted pumpkin Saturday evening. She had first attempted to carve a pumpkin, but that didn’t go as planned.

“My carved one had a lot of bad holes in it,” she said. “Carving is a lot harder for 6-year-olds.”

On her second pumpkin, Bailey painted lines of red, orange, yellow and so on until she had all the colors of the rainbow; she was more pleased with how that one turned out.

“I like to be an artist of my own,” she said. “I like to make my own designs.”

Jaelynn S. Jessmer and Julia R. Domena, both 10, carved out heart and skeleton designs on their pumpkins. Jaelynn enjoyed eating cooked pumpkin seeds after carving, while Julia enjoys another part of the process.

“I like going down into the pumpkin goop, picking it up and taking it out,” she said. “It’s a fun thing to do with your friends.”

It was the girls’ first entry into the contest, but Judy T. Jones’s 26th.

Ms. Jones said she started carving nearly 40 years ago, when her children were young. They are grown now, but she still submits entries to see the reactions on other youngster’s faces.

Pumpkin carving provides opportunities for families and communities to get together, she said.

A pumpkin display is something larger communities might not be able to pull off, Ms. Jones said.

“This is hometown America right here,” she said. “This is something we cannot afford to lose.”

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