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Chester County Press

Celebrate the season at the Great Pumpkin Carve

10/17/2016 10:30AM ● By J. Chambless

Carving a pumpkin is sometimes a family affair.

By Gene Pisasale

Anyone over 40 likely knows the television special “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” which first aired on Oct. 27, 1966 and became a smash hit, with whimsical scenes of kids carving jack o’lanterns accompanied by the inspired jazz piano of Vince Guaraldi.

It’s hard to believe that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the special, which has become a cherished part of autumn. The Chadds Ford Historical Society has its own tradition – The Great Pumpkin Carve.

Carving and decorating pumpkins has its roots in England, but has been popular in America for nearly two centuries. The practice received greater recognition here in Chester County when Andrew Wyeth began crafting his pumpkin creations in the 1970s at the historic Chadds Ford Inn (now Brandywine Prime). Wyeth, with his son Jamie, sculpted enough beguiling figures to attract huge crowds. In 1992, the annual celebration moved up the road to the grounds of the Historical Society, where hundreds of people enjoyed the cleverly carved pumpkins lit by candles at night.

Today, these strange-looking gourds are transformed by talented artists into a variety of fanciful shapes and take their places in an enchanting pumpkin patch for everyone to see. The largest ones weigh in at several hundred pounds and are huge, providing an entertaining and photogenic backdrop for photographs of the entire family. The Haunted Trail stands nearby, offering parents and kids the opportunity to wander among spooky ghouls, ghosts and goblins, enveloped by eerie music.

The Great Pumpkin Carve will be held Thursday, Oct. 20 and Friday, Oct. 21 from 5 to 9 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 22, with expanded hours from 3 to 9 p.m. at the Historical Society Visitor Center (1736 Creek Rd., Chadds Ford). On Thursday night, visitors can watch the artists in action. This year, more than 50 people will be creating beautiful displays that will please even the most discriminating viewer. There will be hayrides, live music, food and beverages, along with arts and crafts. Admission is $10 for adults, and $5 for ages 7 to 17. The event is free for Historical Society members and children 6 and younger.

For more information, call 610-388-7376 or visit

Gene Pisasale is an author/lecturer/historian based in Kennett Square. His eight books and lecture series focus on the history of the Philadelphia and mid-Atlantic region. He can be contacted at Visit his website at

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