Anyone over the age of 40 likely remembers the television special “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” which aired on October 27, 1966, and became a smash hit with its whimsical scenes of kids carving jack o’lanterns accompanied by the inspired jazz piano of Vince Guaraldi. The art work of Charles Schulz and the tune “Linus and Lucy” have warmed the hearts of millions around the world. They’ve become symbols of this season, along with crimson-leafed maples and rustic farm stands on backcountry roads. The Chadds Ford Historical Society welcomes fall each year with its own celebration, The Great Pumpkin Carve.
Carving pumpkins in autumn has its roots in England, but has been popular in America for nearly two centuries. The practice received greater recognition locally when Andrew Wyeth began crafting his creations, in the 1970’s, at the historic Chadds Ford Inn (now Brandywine Prime). Along with his son Jamie, they sculpted enough charming figures to bring in huge crowds, eventually needing a larger space to display them. In 1992, the annual celebration moved up the road to the grounds of the Historical Society, where hundreds of people enjoyed the cleverly designed handiworks lit by candles at night. Today, these strange-looking gourds are transformed by talented artists into a bewildering variety of fanciful shapes and are placed in an enchanting pumpkin patch at the visitor center for everyone to see. The largest ones tilt in at several hundred pounds and are more than three feet in width, providing an entertaining and photogenic backdrop for kids and parents alike.
On the first night of the event, visitors can watch the artists in action as they bring the pumpkins to life, illuminated to highlight their amazing features. This year, more than 60 gifted individuals are creating beautiful displays to please even the most discriminating viewer. The popular Haunted Trail thrills attendees with eerie scenes of ghosts, goblins and ghouls along with spooky Halloween sounds. There are also hayrides, live music, food and beverages along with selected arts and crafts. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for ages 7- 17. It is free for Society members and kids six and under.
For more information, contact the Chadds Ford Historical Society at 610-388-7376 or visit their website at www.chaddsfordhistory.org.
Gene Pisasale is an author based in Kennett Square, Pa. His eight books and lecture series focus on the history of the Philadelphia and mid-Atlantic region. His latest work “American Revolution to Fine Art- Brandywine Valley Reflections” is an historical “walking tour” of the Chester County region, taking readers along forgotten crossroads, to Colonial gristmills, historical monuments and numerous sites around the area. He can be contacted at Gene@GenePisasale.com. Visit his website at www.GenePisasale.com. His books are available on www.Amazon.com.