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They Are The Picassos Of Pumpkin Carving

The Otis Orchards man whose family carved 60 pumpkins last year and now plans to do it again admits his obsession with jack-o’-lanterns has a Freudian ring to it.

“My mother was a very, very particular person,” explains Dan Frickle, who lives at 20924 E. Wabash. “In my family, we always had one jack-o’-lantern, and she was the only one allowed to carve it. I always said, ‘If I ever have kids, we’re going to carve pumpkins together.”’

It’s a classic case of pumpkin envy.

On their first Halloween together, the accountant and his wife, Vicki, each carved a pumpkin. After the birth of their first child, Eric, now 14, they added another to the family porch.

It wasn’t until nine-year-old Emily came along that the Frickle family pumpkin carvers got a little crazy.

In the years since, the Frickles have transformed pumpkin carving into a legitimate art form.

Dan Frickle proudly thumbs through a stack of photos showing the result of last year’s efforts.

“It seems like the one we get the most comments on is ‘The Carousel”’ he said.

What about “Transylvanian Castle”? asks his son Eric.

“I don’t know, Dad,” says Emily. “Lots of people said ‘The Pharoah’ was great.”

Oh, yeah, Frickle said, reconsidering everything.

Where most people see a plump orange orb, Dan Frickle sees rearing stallions, castles, and spooky forests. He and his family order pumpkin carving saws through Denver-based Pumpkin Masters magazine, from which they also get design ideas to complement their own.

“This year we’re going to do a southwestern scene with cowboys, a spiral dragon and a saber-toothed tiger,” Frickle said.

“Don’t forget that fish bowl,” Emily reminds her Dad.

Neighbors always enjoy the family’s carved pumpkin display, which lights up their culdesac like, well, a jack-o’-lantern on Halloween.

The only thing is, when upwards of 300 folks flock to the neighborhood on Halloween night, the trick-or-treat candy goes in a hurry. Dave Barnes, who lives across the street from the Frickles at 20917 E. Wabash, needed seven big bags of candy last year.

Pumpkins become a quasi-metaphor for Dan Frickle’s life.

“You know how you feel when you come home after the first day of skiing and you dream you’re still up on the slopes?” he asks. “That’s how pumpkin carving is for me. It’s constantly in my mind.

“I go to sleep with it. I wake up with it. The clock radio looks like a pumpkin in the morning.”

Pumpkin-carving fever has bit his kids hard, too.

Frickle spies his son Eric smiling mischeviously from the sofa. Last year, Eric convinced his dad to carve an extra 20 pumpkins on Halloween morning.

“Now, Eric, you’re not going to do this to me again?” Frickle asks. “Come Thursday, you’re not going to say, ‘C’mon, Dad, let’s do 70.’ Are you? His son savors the moment until his dad threatens to garnish Eric’s allowance for the extra candle money.

“Well,” Eric says, “maybe just 65.”

xxxx FRICKLE FACTS The Frickle family will carve more than a 1,000 pounds of pumpkin this week. The Frickles annually compost three cubic feet of pumpkin guts in their garden. None of the Frickles is particularly fond of pumpkin pie.