Leavenworth man carves craft pumpkins with famous faces to last a lifetime

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LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- 'Tis the season for pumpkins -- but the pictures one man from Leavenworth is carving into them last forever.

He's carving people and things you might recognize into craft pumpkins.

“I was watching Monday night football probably 12 years ago, and I saw that they had carved the likenesses of the sportscasters and had the pumpkins out, and got curious, did a little research, came up with my own thing,” said Tony Higginbotham.

Higginbotham works for the U.S. government by day -- carves pumpkins by night.

“I started on real pumpkins, because that`s all I realized I could carve on, but I got tired of spending three or four hours on a pumpkin just for it to rot and go bad in a couple weeks,” added Higginbotham.

Somebody asked if he could carve on craft pumpkins made out of a dense foam and plastic. he found out he could, and now he mostly carves on those types of pumpkins.

“I hate to spend all that time just for somebody to have to throw it away,” Higginbotham said.

He gets orders throughout the year, but especially around Halloween.

“I`ve learned how to take pictures and I`ll manipulate them down to a certain number of colors, and then I have to adjust it a little bit, glue it onto the pumpkin, and carve,” Higginbotham added.

Using a small, hand-held, high-speed drill, he carefully carves each picture -- and you might recognize some of his famous faces.

“A lot of people will look at my pumpkins in the daylight and they don`t really get it, and it`s not until you`re in a darker room, and then you light it up, so they can see all the different shades and it kind of makes the picture pop,” said Higginbotham.

Higginbotham used to doodle a little bit, never considered himself an artist.  It took a few years for him to hone his craft, and now he carves as a stress reliever.

“Usually on the weekends, or if I have a real bad day at work, it`s therapeutic. I can have a bad day, go downstairs, carve, when I come back up, it`s like everything is better,” Higginbotham said.

His work also includes memorial pumpkins for firefighter John Mesh and Dallas police officer Michael Krol -- both killed in the line of duty.

“Anything I can do to honor that at all, it`s my privilege,” said Higginbotham.

For more information on Higginbotham’s pumpkins, click on this link.

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