The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


His pumpkin patch serves a higher calling

Most religious art is in the form of stained-glass windows, statues and paintings. Bill Habedank uses pumpkins.

That may seem like an odd choice, but Habedank’s depiction of Jesus with Peter is remarkable — even more so when you realize it’s only one of more than 100 pumpkins carved each Halloween by the member of First Lutheran Church, Red Wing, Minn.

For more than 35 years, Habedank has used his self-taught jack-o’-lantern making skills to create a visual display of faces, ranging from SpongeBob SquarePants to members of the Red Wing community to Jesus.

“In 1976 my children were getting interested in Halloween so I carved them a couple of pumpkins,” he said. “Then I decided to grow my own pumpkins, and I had a bumper crop. I decided to carve them all up. As I got better at it I kept adding to the show, to where I’ve had more than 150 pumpkins the last few years.”

The “show” is a multilevel display of jack-o’-lanterns, illuminated by Christmas lights and resting on bales of hay. Each year, Habedank looks for new characters to carve. Beginning about 10 days before Halloween — with a variety of carving tools — he creates 10 or more works of art a day. They are stored in a friend’s walk-in cooler and put on display from two days before Halloween until a week after.

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