Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A gourd guru I am not...please help

Vote for my jack-o'-lantern

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I am starting to feel a lot like Linus van Pelt from the timeless animated TV special It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

If you have survived as many Halloweens as I have, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Every year, while the rest of the Peanuts gang are out trick-or-treating, poor Linus spends the night shivering in the pumpkin patch, waiting for the Great Pumpkin to rise up and fly around the world delivering gifts to good girls and boys.

Every year, while the other kids are eating themselves into a sugar-induced candy coma, Linus's Halloween dreams are dashed because, surprise, the Great Pumpkin never shows up.

Likewise, every year at this time I grab a butcher knife and head over to Kildonan Place Shopping Centre dreaming of covering myself in glory at the annual celebrity pumpkin-carving contest, wherein local media personalities whip up jack-o'-lanterns in support of their favourite charities.

And every year, just like Linus in his pumpkin patch, my dreams of carving my way to big bucks for the Winnipeg Humane Society are crushed and I slink out of the mall a beaten man, pumpkin guts dripping from my butcher knife and shoppers recoiling in horror.

Last year, for instance, I was forced to carve an extremely lopsided pumpkin and, just as the contest was ending, it toppled over and, as I tried to catch it, accidentally punched its little pumpkin face into smithereens. The kind-hearted crew from CTV Morning Live gave me some toothpicks to rebuild the shattered gourd, but, tragically, it ended up looking like Lindsay Lohan after a weeklong bender.

The truth is, it was not the first time I have turned in a disgusting pumpkin in this highly competitive contest, which runs from 11 a.m. to noon today in the mall's centre court.

A few years back, I tried to wow the judges with the Puking Pumpkin, a revolting jack-o'-lantern that resembled a frat boy on kegger night and appeared to be violently losing its lunch by spewing gallons of gooey pumpkin guts from its gaping mouth.

The following year, in what I thought was a flash of genius, I created the Exploding Bloody Brains Pumpkin, a stomach-churning jack-o'-lantern featuring brains made from expandable foam insulation coated in strawberry-syrup blood.

The only success I have ever enjoyed in this event was the year I carved a cute canine pumpkin in the likeness of one of my dogs. So that's what I'm going to do today in the mall's centre court.

Corey Quintaine, the mall's marketing director, has a soft spot for gross pumpkins, but agreed my only hope for salvation rests in carving a dog-themed gourd.

"I say go for it," is what Corey told me last week. "Fans of the Winnipeg Humane Society will love it, and I'm sure if you tried your hand at a cat-themed jack-o'-lantern, your dogs would never forgive you. Besides, who wouldn't want a dog on their front porch for Halloween, even if it is of the gourd variety."

Corey is right, people. The important thing is, the humane society and I can't win without the help of you, the computer- and smartphone-owning newspaper reader.

That's because, once again, the contest is being decided by online votes. The carvers get $100 for charity just for entering, but the mall is posting photos of our pumpkins on its Facebook page ( and the one that gets the most votes by 10 p.m. on Halloween earns another $500 for their cause.

So you definitely need to hop on Facebook and vote for my Great Pumpkin because, just like Linus, I am cute and sincere and praying my Halloween dreams will finally come true.

Also, I have a very sharp butcher knife.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 28, 2013 A14

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