Serial Carvers Puncture Pumpkins

Photo courtesy of Shawn Campbell.
Photo courtesy of Shawn Campbell.
Photo courtesy of Shawn Campbell.

Hundreds of hollow, orange, candlelit faces line the walls: staring, grinning and glaring at the thousands of costumed patrons waddling through the room.

Every year, masses stream down Main Street to observe an extensive collection of pumpkin carved art at The Bakery on North Front Street. The Bakery is hosting its 23rd annual pumpkin carving extravaganza, “Night of 100 Pumpkins” on Oct. 30 from 6-9:00 p.m.

David Santner, the owner of The Bakery, said the event has been “wonderful” on past Halloween nights and is looking forward to this year’s celebration.

“We always get to see a bunch of creative stuff,” Santner said.

During each year’s event The Bakery generally sees nearly 2,000 people stop in to pumpkin-gander throughout the course of the three hour event, according to Santner.

“It’s a lot of fun,”  Office Manager of The Bakery, Lisa Gutkin said. “We have all the pumpkins lit for when the walkers come down after the parade. It’s like a couple hours of a little party.”

Gutkin said she always looks forward to seeing the innovative designs people create each year. She said it’s impressive to see what new ideas the returning participants are able to come up with.

“I’m always surprised by the art,” she said. “I always see something new that hasn’t been done before, even after all these years.”

To enter the contest, participants must either paint or carve a pumpkin, according to The Bakery’s website. Pumpkin-designing participants are eligible to win prizes in the friendly contest that takes place during the event. Nearly 60 prizes are given to the artists who designed “pumpkins that deserve a prize,” Santner said. The prizes are gift certificates and other tributes donated by local merchants, mainly restaurants, Santner said.

Along with the spectacle of pumpkin art Santner said patrons look forward to the musical performance put on during the “Night of 100 Pumpkins.”

“One of the highlights of the event has always been the music,” Santner said. “Every Halloween a group of West African musicians come with their drums, their students, and their incredible energy to entertain us and keep us dancing.”

To Santner’s dismay, one of the drummers, Moustapha Diedhiou, a regular at the event, will not be able to perform this year, Santner said. Diedhiou sustained a head injury on Oct. 1 when he fell from scaffolding while painting a house.

During the event, there will be receptacles at the table and in The Bakery to make donations to support Diedhiou and his family while he recovers in the Westchester Medical Center, according to Santner.

New Paltz takes its Halloween celebrations seriously and Santner said the “Night of 100 Pumpkins” is an extra special event for The Bakery. He said The Bakery is in the center-point of the village’s Halloween festivities and that “it feels great to be included in that.”