Oh, My Gourd! Alexandria Family’s Pumpkin Carvings Raise the Jack-O-Lantern to an Artform

Alexandria, VA – For some 20 years, Rick and Lynne White have carved the humble pumpkin into a work of art. Their festive Halloween display on Emerald Drive in Alexandria’s Waynewood neighborhood draws a crowd every year.

The White House, by the Whites. An annual favorite. (All photos by Susan Fleischman, unless otherwise noted.)

“When we first moved here, we were the only house on the block with young children,” explained Rick White. “We started carving the pumpkins after my brother-in-law introduced us to the art of it. It took off after that.”

What began with a simple Pumpkin Masters kit of saws and patterns has evolved into an impressive display of a few dozen illuminated jack-o-lanterns bearing the likenesses of favorite sports teams, cultural icons, trendy topics, political figures and more.

The Whites have 48 pumpkins on display this year. Some of the scenes are two- and three-dimensional, all bathed in an orangey, Halloweenish glow that feels just right.

The offerings this year include a nod in memoriam to RBG and Kobe and Gianna Bryant, as well as images of Tiger King, Hamilton, Tik Tok, and Post Malone. One table honors the Whites’ son and daughter and their alma maters, and the current events section gives a subtle nod to the coronavirus, displaying a masked pumpkin next to network logos we all know too well these days, such as Netflix and Apple TV.

The carvings can take a few days to complete, so the Whites start about a week ahead. They have learned how to scrape the outer skin of the pumpkin to achieve the desired scene as well as keep the pumpkin intact for a few more days before emptying it out.

Friends and fans adore the display and look forward to it every year. Friend and neighbor Jeanne Simuro said, “The pumpkin carving is really intricate and detailed. The pumpkins will be lit tonight, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. They are truly something to see.”

One neighbor narrated the scene for a friend on FaceTime, a la the LA Dodgers’ Vin Scully, with oohs and aahs paying respect and homage to the artists. “We’ve been enjoying this every year since we moved here 16 years ago,” he said.

Speaking of the Dodgers (and btw, congratulations to LA on this year’s World Series win), White recalled the situation one year ago, when the Nationals won the World Series in Game 7 on October 30, 2019. The game ended at 11 pm, and White got right to work, carving one pumpkin with Fight Finished and the World Series trophy, and another for the iconic Baby Shark.

Photo by Rick White

“We have wondered how long we’ll do this, every year,” admitted White. “But then the season rolls around and we get going.” Much to the delight of their adoring fans. As family friend Beth Jarvis said, “It is a gift to our community and something I look forward to every year, especially this year. Such artistry and originality.”

Happy Halloween!