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Ohio man's pumpkin gallery a real Halloween treat

Give Dave Hilty an old hickory knife and his trusty Craftsman sabre saw, and watch out for flying pumpkin seeds.

Hilty can clean and carve a jumbo-sized pumpkin in minutes, and the results are impressive."People ask me how I do it; I just do it," he said. "I do what I want to do. I'm not into carving Rush Limbaugh or Bush or Clinton."

The Columbus Grove, Ohio, resident has been creating 80-plus jack-o'-lanterns to display in front of his house every Halloween for years. This year, he figures he'll push that to about 90, though he says he never counts.

"I do it for the people."

Believe it or not, he works his Halloween magic just a day or two in advance of trick-or-treat night. He "guts" them at his field and carves them outside his Broadway Street home.

He uses a hickory knife to cut the top out - "The main thing is to get a big hole in the top" - then uses a lid from a peanut butter jar to clean out the seeds and goo inside - "There's no handle to get in the way."

He fixes mistakes, like teeth that fall out, with toothpicks. And he now uses electric Christmas lights, not candles, to light them. "They stay lit a lot longer," Hilty said.

The Hiltys' house, which is on one of the Putnam County town's last remaining brick streets, is a special attraction for locals each Oct. 31.

About 30 jack-o-lanterns wind up in his front windows, and the rest are on the front steps and yard.

Hilty and a friend dress up as an old man and old woman, sit on the steps and hand out candy to 100 or more trick-or-treaters - and guard the pumpkins.

Though vandalism has been minimal, Hilty said someone toppled one of his biggest pumpkins off the front step one year.

Another year, police found several of his pumpkins, their candles still burning, inside a patrol car parked at the police station down the street.

He said someday he would like to carve enough pumpkins to decorate the entire street, but for now, he's satisfied with his exhibit.

Hilty said he always has liked Halloween, but his wife favors Christmas. Though he gets excited about carving pumpkins, he said she collects Santa Clauses.

"She supports me. She buys the candy and turns the music on," he said.

Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.