Carvings light up Halloween Spirit
Oct 09, 2012 08:46AM ● Published by Community News Service
Ever since he and his family moved 13 years ago to the corner of Thompson Street and 3rd Street in Bordentown City, Roberson’s continued the tradition of lighting up his backyard with carved pumpkins, continuing to carve until dusk on Halloween.
Neighbors, friends and family—“anyone I can con (into helping),” as Roberson put it—come over to the house to help out with the effort. Roberson’s wife, Michele, prepares food for any guests who stop by.
The pumpkin carving first started with Roberson and his neighbor, Jim Riddle, but now has extended to a revolving door atmosphere of different people coming and going.
“You never know who’s gonna show up,” Roberson said. “We always have pumpkins here, though.”
And the tradition itself has remained the same. On the middle Saturday of October, Roberson starts to bring truckloads of pumpkins back to the house from Hlubick Farm in Chesterfield and stacks them in the backyard.
About two weeks before Halloween, he’ll get together the necessary supplies. Roberson has a master set of about 500 patterns. Every year, he makes copies of them, which he keeps in two three-ring binders, and starts punching the designs into the pumpkins, before the pumpkins are cut open and the seeds taken out.
Each pattern is numbered, and that number is written on the bottom of the corresponding pumpkin to avoid confusion when it comes time to carve.
“We learned that the one year the hard way,” Roberson said. “I had to spend a lot of time drawing it out for everybody.”
Roberson and his volunteers have learned to cope with other aspects of carving, too.
“There’s always a roll of duct tape sitting on the table, because you’re just taping your fingers, because usually they crack and it hurts,” Roberson said. “Now we have gloves that we all try to wear to keep our hands a little bit better.”
Since the street’s been gaining attention from visitors each Halloween, Roberson has been working to break each previous year’s record.
“Everybody came down seeing the dragon, and since it’s a one-way, they come down and see my house,” Roberson said. “Then it became a thing that we’ll do one more pumpkin evey year.”
He admits it’s a bit stressful — he even takes a week of vacation from work to make sure everything’s finished in the days leading up to Halloween. This year, though, he’s not trying to break any records. Two years ago, it had taken almost two hours just for Roberson to light all the carved pumpkins at night.
“Every year I complain about it and say I’m not gonna do it again, and then Halloween comes and it’s five people deep all the way around the fence,” Roberson said. “Cars’ll stop, I’ll be in my house asleep at 11 o’clock at night, and people will still be taking pictures all night long.”
He has support for the community, too. Often he’ll find bags of candles on his doorstep from neighbors willing to help. And it’s that support from the kids and parents that makes him want to continue to tradition.
And as for the pumpkin guts and leftover carvings—they’re all brought back to the farm, where the cows will eat every last bit.