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Guinness Record for Pumpkin Carving

Steve Clarke of Havertown, Pennsylvania is glowing orange and talking "Pumpkin Proud". He is the world record holder, and owns bragging rights as "The World's Fastest Pumpkin Carver".

On December 14, 2000, Steve carved a 27.5 pound pumpkin (displayed below) in a record 1:14.8 minutes, shaving 19 seconds off the old record held by Jerry Ayers of Baltimore, Ohio. He received a certificate from Guinness World Book of Records a few month later. See the certificate.

As told by Steve "I carved the record breaker at Rosemont School of the Holy Child, where I have worked as the sixth grade teacher and also football and track coach for the last 23 years. I also attended elementary school there, and my two daughters attend currently. They served as videographers for the event. My wife Karen serves as sounding board ,and exhibits the patience of Job. Anyone who will put up with a basement full of pumpkins into January (with the occasional rotter)and a house decorated with Christmas Jack O' Lanterns, deserves at least some of the credit for the record. The school (especially my boss Sister Mary Broderick) has been great about giving me the time to travel and carve, and my students have really enjoyed being part of the whole thing."

In August, 2000, Steve Clarke wrote to the Guinness Prime Time TV show in August , telling them that he could break the carving record of 1:37, then held by Jerry Ayers of Baltimore, Ohio. It took until December to make all the arrangements and get the folks from Guinness to come witness the event. Steve is a sixth grade teacher there.

Late in the year as it was, Steve was out of pumpkins, but found a local farmer who donated about thirty 25-30 pounders), enough to audition and a few to practice on. For his audition tape, Steve carved three standard faces in 1:00 to 1:30 each, and then did the Mona Lisa in 4:37, just to knock their socks off. About a week later, Guinness. He then scheduled the event for the second week of December, and the rest is now history.

Here is a little more about Steve, and what brought him to this great feat (as told by him):

"I was born in Philadelphia, Pa in 1959, the 5th child of 9. My Dad had a very large garden, which we all worked in (often against our will). This time in the garden developed my love of growing things, and, when I got married and moved out, I started my own garden. I began to enter my vegetables in various shows in the Philadelphia area and was very successful. Nine years ago, after winning a gift certificate for a first place harvest basket of squash and pumpkins, I thought it was appropriate to spend it on a pumpkin carving kit. When I was a kid, being the fifth oldest (or youngest) in the family did not give me much opportunity to participate in the annual pumpkin carving at Halloween. That was reserved for my older brothers and sisters. My job usually consisted of cleaning out the seeds and flesh and then standing back and watching.

Now I had the carving kit and a whole lot of pumpkins at my disposal. I carved 4 pumpkins that first year and was hooked. I found out right away that, for some reason, I was really good at it. Over the next few years, my Halloween display grew larger and larger, even drawing in "drive bys", people who had heard about my pumpkins and drove by(in some cases quite a distance) to see them. Six years ago, I realized that I could do more than just typical Halloween images on pumpkins and started to branch out.

That Halloween, (and the next two) I was featured on a local tv station with my pumpkin images of Mount Rushmore and the Mona Lisa. Two years ago (1999) I was invited by Vice President Gore to carve pumpkins for his Halloween Party. I carved more than 30 pumpkins for the Gores, including the Mona Lisa, The Iwo Jima Memorial, the White House, American Gothic, Detail from the Sistine Chapel, Portraits of the Gores, and many more. This year (2000) I was again featured on local tv, as well as sending pumpkins to the Gore's on the Campaign trail. I was also invited to do the Rosie O'Donnell show with Mr. Gore. Also, a special thanks to Beth Rado, who gave me my "big break" by setting up the Vice Presidential pumpkin carving party in 1999.

Although I didn't get on the air with my portrait of Rosie, there was a picture of myself, Rosie O'Donnell, and Al Gore that went out world wide over the Associated Press (until recently, it was the highlight of my pumpkin carving career). I had so many pumpkins this year that I not only did Halloween and Thanksgiving, but also carved 5 Christmas pumpkins (the Grinch, Santa Claus, 2 Nativity scenes and a Reindeer)."

On his supportive family, Steve says:

"My teenage daughters try their best to adapt a studied embarrassment over the whole thing, but I know better. They are both really excited by the whole thing. (Besides, they got to meet Regis & Kathie Lee and Rosie O'Donnell, and got to go to the Vice President's Halloween Party; so they're happy) My wife…..what can you say about a woman who will put up with the smell (and mess) of an occasional pumpkin going bad down in the basement with no (well,maybe a little) complaint, and would be seen in public with a man with orange hands? How many women would understand the utter anguish that goes with the statement "I just cut off Humphrey Bogart's nose!" As for me, I'm really excited about the whole thing. If you win the 100 meter dash at the Olympics, you are the World's Fastest Human. If you break the Guinness Record, you are the World's Fastest Pumpkin Carver. That's pretty cool. Now I will begin my assault on the one minute barrier!"


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