Super sculptor answers call to carve 636-lb. HPA pumpkin

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<p>Sculptor William Patrick McKnight will be carving the giant pumpkin on display at the HPA Pumpkin Patch. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>
<p>A stone sculpture by William Patrick McKnight is on display during the HPA Pumpkin Patch event on Oct. 20. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

It takes a special person to carve a 636-lb. pumpkin. That’s why Hawaii Preparatory Academy called in the best sculptor on the island, William McKnight, to do it.

Though McKnight is famous for his brilliant rock carvings, he immediately agreed to volunteer his tools and expertise to chiseling the thick rind of the orange-yellow super fruit.

Grown in the HPA Lower Campus Ulumau Garden through the care, nurturing and scientific research of Noah Dodd, the school’s garden teacher and coordinator, the now-famous pumpkin has made the rounds at local fall events and even won a prize at the Waimea Town Market during their annual pumpkin contest.

As his first “really thoughtful” attempt at giant pumpkin growing, Dodd said he took great care in studying the right conditions to precisely grow the pumpkin to reach maximum growth. They dedicated a special section of the garden to the pumpkin, and prepared the soil well in advance of planting.

“It was done intentionally,” Dodd said of growing the pumpkin. “If you have the dream, it is the manifestation of the dream.”

Dodd said to grow the pumpkin, he had to use a “lasagna-like” layering technique to build healthy soil with the right balance and make sure it was planted and bloomed at the right time. Though he said the actual growing part of the pumpkin occurs when students are on summer break, the students are able to witness the beginning and end techniques.

“It was really a huge hit,” said Dodd. “The kids were so excited by it.”

According to Dodd, the final pumpkin size was surprisingly much bigger than he expected.

After all of the hard work, McKnight said he was happy to donate his time to the project. McKnight studied sculpture, painting and other medium in France with a variety of famous artists. A resident of Hawaii Island for more than 30 years, he said he enjoys helping others, and he looks forward to the event.

“It is nice to be able to help children,” he said.

HPA students are holding a contest to decide the designs to be carved in the pumpkin. The images will be chosen from drawings submitted by students using the theme, “Spooky Creatures of the Haunted Forest.”

From 12 to 3 p.m. on Oct. 29, McKnight will help HPA students take turns learning to carve throughout the day.

“They will just have fun,” said McKnight.