Making Pumpkins Great Again

By Katy Ricalde

A woman in Ohio is trying to make pumpkins great again. Jeanette Paras is known for "pumpkinizing" celebrities and political figures with her artwork since 1998 and her latest creation showcases presidential candidate Donald Trump. The "Trumpkin" as Paras calls it started as a 374lb pumpkin and took about 10 hours to create. Paras says she "pumpkinizes" visible figures in the media--so naturally Trump was an easy choice.

The idea came to Paras and her husband Peter after visiting an agriculture pumpkin show in their home state. The pair brought home a few of the "smaller" pumpkins with the hopes of carving them. Jeanette recounts the story, saying that Peter was getting ready to "stab" the pumpkin when she suggested they sketch it out first. They went to bed and the next morning the sketch became her first creation. Since then the pumpkins have grown and sometimes local growers donate them. Jeanette says she couldn't do it without the local pumpkin growers in Ohio--and gave a special shoutout to this years donor, Dan Kirts of London, OH.

Paras has to find just the right pumpkin to fit the celebrity she wishes to create and they take on average anywhere from 10-15 hours. Recently she was worried Paras Pumpkins would have to skip this year. Jeanette is a 14 year cancer survivor and last month she had to have a nine hour surgery for a recurrence of stage 1 breast cancer. 

"When I found out I had cancer I cried. Not because of the cancer--I knew I could beat that--but because I wouldn't be able to paint my pumpkin." 

Luckily for all involved her doctors said she would be back to painting three weeks post surgery. In fact, they told Paras she had to paint her pumpkin as part of her recovery--"doctors orders" this year she joked. 

She has never sold one of her pumpkins and has no desire to for her own purposes. She is considering partnering with local cancer hospitals in hopes to raise money for cancer research in the future. We asked Jeanette who she plans to "pumpkinize" next, but she says that is a secret. She did say her home has a "non-partisan pumpkin porch" if that is any hint to her fans.

Paras has turned pop-culture icons, politicians, world leaders, sports stars and more into art using giant pumpkins. About 82 over the years. She doesn't call herself an artist, but rather does it "for fun" and because it gives her a lot of joy. Paras told us her greatest moments come from watching others smile and laugh at the pumpkins.

Thank you for sharing your work with us, Jeanette! We wish you the best as you fight breast cancer and we got a good laugh from your art.  We can't wait to see who gets "pumpkinized" next. Might we suggest our anchor--

All photos are courtesy of Paras Pumpkins and to view more of her creations visit her Facebook page!