I reused my headless horseman design the following evening for the Atkins Park Pumpkin Carving Competition. Eight impressive contestants battled, knives in one hand, beer in the other, for the ultimate prize: bragging rights for best control of motor skills while drinking $50 in house cash. The floors piled high with orange innards, the tables cluttered with empty bottles, the sculptors made incisions with surgeon like precision stabbed wildly into their fleshy canvases, the servers grimaced at the mess – some of their faces rivaling the reliefs in progress.

The bell eventually rang signaling to the proud participants it was time to put down our knives (but not necessarily our drinks). The house lights were dimmed as candles were lowered into position. The smokey interior of the bar created a ghostly fog around the glowing gourds on display. Intense judging ensued: fellow carvers, Atkins Park employees, awed bar patrons, and a homeless guy who had wandered in to use the bathroom all cast their ballots.

In the end, my headless horseman was raised in victory. Much like King Mufasa proudly holding his son, Simba, before the rest of the pride, so I hoisted my baby before the throngs of listless bar-goers…and that homeless guy. I had never felt so proud.


Special thanks to Julie, for the picture, and The Pizza Maker, for moral support