‘Bill the Pumpkin Man’ of Red Wing retiring after 46 years of festive pumpkin displays

A popular pumpkin carver in Red Wing has decided to retire at the end of this Halloween season.

Bill Habedank, known as ‘Bill the Pumpkin Man,’ has put on an impressive jack-o-lantern display for the past 46 years.

"My early pumpkins were much different than they are now," Habedank said. "I used to just do cutouts. Now I do portraits and images and scenes on pumpkins. I can put any picture on a pumpkin."

Habedank has 114 pumpkins on display this season, with designs that range from witches to U.S. presidents to an image of George Floyd. As a retired veterinarian, many of his designs also showcase animals.

He started carving pumpkins with his kids as a family activity in 1974. He said the tradition has grown over the years into a full Halloween display outside his home.

"I enjoy watching the people come and try to figure out which pumpkin they like the best," Habedank said. "And watching the kids get all excited, it makes it worthwhile."

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For the past 30 years, Habedank has used his Halloween attraction to bring in donations for a local food shelf. While it is free to visit, Habedank requests people bring a donation of food or pet food.

Habedank said he carves 12 hours per day for about a week in order to complete the display, with some help from his friend Doug Blakesley.

"I’m a pumpkin wrangler. I gut them, I scoop them and I haul them around," Blakesley said. "It is just so much fun."

Habedank estimates he has carved more than 5,000 pumpkins over the past 46 years.

He said he decided to retire this year because the intense carving has become too hard on his body and his fingers.

"I think if we had to end it, this is a good year to end it because we’re doing it for the community in this troubled year," Blakesley said.

Habedank recommends people visit the display in person, after dark, to get the full effect. It will be up through November 2nd outside his home, located at 1913 Grandview Avenue in Red Wing.