Monday, November 2, 2009

Adventures in Pumpkin Carving

Halloween is my #1 favorite holiday of the year. I love everything about it -- candy, carving jack o' lanterns, roasting pumpkin seeds, watching Linus and Sally waiting in the pumpkin patch, dressing up in costumes, and scary movies. So, it's no real surprise I'm trying to stretch it out into just one more day here at the hotel as I crunch some leftover candy from the Munchkin Masquerade. Today, I want to share with you a Hotel Boulderado tradition that I took part in for the first time -- the annual Employee Pumpkin Carving Contest.

Each department can carve 1-2 pumpkins and enter them for judging and display in the lobby. I picked out my pumpkin early on to get the best selection, resulting in a huge specimen that was nicknamed "The Great Pumpkin" by some office mates because of its size and 30-pound weight. Here's what it looked like after being hollowed out, cleaned up, and ready for carving:

I'd already had a plan for the design for weeks -- a jack o' lantern clock, where the face of the clock was also the face of the jack o' lantern. The actual carving took me about six hours on Thursday, the night before the competition.

After I finished with that, I covered all the carved parts with cling wrap and kept it in the fridge overnight, to make sure it stayed as fresh as possible. I went to bed knowing I had done the best job possible and looking forward to the festivities the next day.

Just "chilling" in the fridge

And then, the very next morning, disaster struck. I was carrying the pumpkin out to my truck and slipped on some ice. I went down and so did the pumpkin. It bounced, actually, on the ice. I didn't even get up off the ground before I was examining it and assessing the damage. One piece of the face popped out entirely, and there were cracks running all across the front, but the pumpkin's thick rind prevented it from smashing entirely. Here's what it looked like, post-fall:

I tried to put it back together the best I could using toothpicks, nails, and sheer determination. After I put the finishing touches on it, I brought it down to the lobby and set it out for viewing. Some people who had stopped by my desk before then said they thought the cracks enhanced the pumpkin -- "It looks spookier and older." "Are you making some sort of statement about time cracking?" Not really, but the show must go on.

Here's the full collection of submissions sitting under the credenza loaded with bats, snakes, spiders, ravens, and dead tree branches.

Entry #2 from the Sales Office ~ A mermaid accompanied by starfishes
"Winner of Most Funny"

Entry from the Front Desk ~ A ghost superimposed with the initials HB, for Hotel Boulderado
"Winner of Best Theme Carving"

Entry from Set Break/Banquets ~ Scary face with bone teeth
"Winner of Most Difficult"
(Also should be given props for popular favorite -- as people were walking by and looking at them, this was the one most people said they liked the most.)

Entry from Housekeeping ~ A housekeeper (with a custom-sewn uniform)
composting into a pumpkin receptacle
"First Runner Up"

Entry from Q's Restaurant ~ The Q's Logo
"Winner of Best Technique"

Entry from Maintenance ~ An M&M guy
"Best of Show"

And my pumpkin? We took home the "Most Creative" prize. I've already had a couple of ideas for next year's contest, so watch out!

PS Our Front Desk Manager sent me this photo of two of our valet attendants on Halloween dressed like old-school valets. I love it!