Couple creates annual jack-o-lantern spectacular

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  • Make Young, his wife Sarah Bartlett, and a number of jack-o-lanterns Photos by Laurie Gordon

  • Wonder why neighbors call it the pumpkin house?

By Laurie Gordon

– Mike Young has always loved Halloween.

“I've been a fanatic for Halloween all of my life,” he said. “Originally, candy was the motivation, but as the years went on, I began to start carving pumpkins and just love everything about Halloween.”

How appropriate that he should end up marrying a girl three years ago who happened to be born on Halloween. They also first met in 5th grade. Now they combine on the creation of an annual jack-o-lantern museum at the couple's home on Edgewood Drive.

Every year, Young and his bride, Sarah Bartlett, invite family and friends over the weekend before Halloween to carve. Young stencils the designs on all of the pumpkins (150 this year) with a special poker tool. Over the years, he's learned some tricks such as using flour over the stencil so it's easier to see. Everyone then carves while a fire burns to keep away the bees in preparation for the big night. This year, one friend came in from Boston and Bartlett's father came from Florida to join the carving festivities. At 91, Bartlett's dad still does some carving.

By Halloween, all of the jack-o-Lanterns are arranged on and around the porch and old-style Christmas lights have been threaded through them. Come darkness, they are illuminated creating a Halloween spectacular that has become quite an attraction.

Young and Bartlett procure the pumpkins from the Sussex County Strawberry Farm,

“They're great there and always throw in some extra,” Bartlett said.

Young said he finds the stencils – which range from something standard to the very extravagant-- from all over in stores and on the Internet. What started as 50 pumpkins the first year Young carved a lot for Halloween seems to grow each year. Young said that the carved pumpkins last a few days and then they feed them to the deer. People have asked them why they don't use bleach to make them last longer, but that's not happening.

“We really want to be able to feed the animals after Halloween is over,” Young said, “Adding bleach would just mean a big pile of rotten pumpkins.”

“One year we thought all of the trick-or-treaters had come through,” Bartlett recalls. “Then there was a knock on the door and it was a family that was all upset that they'd missed 'The Pumpkin House.'”

Another year, a little girl proudly brought her even younger brother up the front walk while the parents waited by the driveway.

“She proudly announced to her little brother, 'You're going to love this place. I've been coming here my whole life.'”

“The Pumpkin House” on Edgewood Drive delights children and adults alike.

Kathy Guliano of Hackettstown, a friend of the couple who was busy carving on Saturday, said, “I think what they do with the pumpkins is great because it brings out the kid in everyone.”

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