Firsts, a last, and an always at The Carve

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Chuck Feld is interviewed by QVC’s Mally Roncal next to his finished sand sculpture. Feld's sculpting and QVCs's presence were firsts for The Carve.

There were a few firsts for The Great Pumpkin Carve of 2022. There was also a last. And it had its always.

April Margera’s Day of the Dead Music Box.

The always is that it’s fun. As long-time carver Deb Parry said when asked why she keeps coming back, “It’s just joyful.” This was Parry’s 19th year at The Carve.

April Margera lost count of how many years she’s been dismembering pumpkins. She thinks it’s been 12 to 15 years, but, like Parry, she keeps returning because it’s a fun event for the carvers as well as those attending to watch the creativity and enjoy the atmosphere of a gentle, mid-autumn evening. “Everybody enjoys this.”

Yes, The Carve is the biggest annual fundraiser for the Chadds Ford Historical Society, but even the society recognizes it’s more important than just that.

Chuck Feld sculpting the John Chads House out of sand. He the sand is a dirty industrial type of sand, with a lot of clay and can’t be used for much else than protecting underground pipes and sculpting.

“It’s the atmosphere,” said CFHS President Randell Spackman. “It’s a time for kids to enjoy a fall carnival, a Norman Rockwell type of event. It gives us something we need, a chance to disconnect from everything else and just enjoy family, friends, and society.”

Jen Manderscheid, the event chairperson for 14 years, echoed Spackman by saying, “It gives us a chance to wash away the bad stuff that happens.”

Martha King’s entry is a lumberjill chopping a tre, naturally.

Firsts for this year included a sand sculpting demonstration by Chuck Feld, a world-class sand sculptor from Birmingham Township. Feld is another long-time carver at the event but this year he showed off his other talent, turning 10 tons of sand into a replica of the John Chads surrounded by ghosts and goblins.

One of those firsts was a sand sculpting by Birmingham Township’s Chuck Feld, and another was having QVC as a sponsor of the annual event and doing a live feed.

Feld said he’s been doing sand sculpting for 35 years, and it started almost by accident.

Spooky can be playful, too. This is the last year that Phyllis Recca and Gene Pisasale are doing the haunted trail at The Great Pumpkin Carve.

“My son and I were bored on the beach,” he said while smoothing sand with a trowel.

They made dinosaurs in the sand, he said, and people took notice. One suggested he take part in a competition. Feld didn’t think he was good enough but competed anyway. He won. Then came a few more contests, and even when he didn’t win, he would finish in the top three. From there, he got hired to sculpt sand.

Feld, now a master sand sculptor, has a business, Sand Pounders. He’s sculpted from Atlantic City to San Diego and even Belgium.  His clients include NFL Productions, the Miss America Pageant, the Philadelphia Flower Show, plus dozens more. Photos of his work can be found on the Sand Pounders website.

There’s always time for play at a fun event. Kids play on hay bales as Kenny and Friends entertain.

Historical Society Director of Operations Sandi Johnson said she hopes Feld’s demonstration sparked enough interest to have the society have an annual sand sculpting event in the spring.

Another first for this year was the appearance of QVC. Crews were onsite doing some live stream segments of The Carve, including interviews with Feld and Chadds Ford’s favorite lumberjill, Martha King.

And there was a last. This year’s Carve is the last one with Phyllis Recca and Gene Pisasale building and operating the Haunted Trail. They started the trail eight years ago, and it’s time to retire from that, Recca said while walking the trail, ensuring the animatronics were working properly.

Mr. Oak, by the Allan family. Linda Allan said she’s been taking part in The Carve for 27 years and it’/s become a family tradition.

She and Pisasale will be donating the pieces for the trail to the society, and Johnson said she’s hoping to find people willing to take over doing the trail.

But The Carve goes on because people like it. There were more than 60 carvers at the event. There were lines of traffic coming from both directions on Creek Road, with people wanting to attend opening night. Mandersheid later said a total of 2,400 people showed up. And if the weather’s good, they will come again next year.

The Carve runs for two more nights, tonight, Friday, Oct. 21, from 4-9 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 22, from 3-9.

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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