PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – If you are a fan of The Great Pumpkin, you may want to check out an event on the North Shore this weekend.
The Pittsburgh Monster Pumpkins Festival debuted along the Great Lawn at North Shore Riverfront Park and Allegheny River on Saturday and it will continue Sunday.
The technique of growing monster pumpkins has advanced in recent years, with the current world record being more than 2,600 pounds. Pittsburgh may not see one quite that large, but the festival patch has lots of big ones.
“We’ll have plenty of giants on display including many over 1,500 pounds to hopefully some regional weigh-off prize winners that will make their way to Pittsburgh, tipping the scales at over 2,000 pounds,” says Michael Dongilli, the event’s manager.
Among the signature attractions are six of the country’s best pumpkin carvers. Headlining the event are: Russ Leno, Gus Smithhisler, Steve Dahlke, Dean Murray, Pennsylvania’s Danny Kissel and Pittsburgh’s own, Jim Morgan. Together, the six artists have earned many national and international awards and have appeared on TV shows such as: Food Network, Tonight Show and Martha Stewart. Leno holds the current world record for the largest pumpkin ever carved, 1,262 pounds.
In Pittsburgh, the team’s overarching theme, appropriately titled, “Pumpsburgh Portraits,” will feature some of the City’s most iconic figures and their accomplishments. Among the carvings planned are Mister Rodgers, Andy Warhol, Billy Eckstine and several more celebrity others.
“We’ll have multiple drops on both days and they will vary in type,” said Dongilli. “In one instance, since we’re a week away from Halloween, two of the pumpkins will be hollowed out and filled with candy [one each day of the event], a sort of ‘pumpkin pinata’ for kids. In another twist, we’ll drop several into standing pools of water that have orange numbered ping-pong balls in them.
“These drops have charity tie-ins. Spectators are assigned a numbered ball for a donation. The ball is placed inside the pool. When the pumpkin hits the water, the balls are vaulted out and the one traveling farthest from the pool will win a special prize.”