Scary, sweet and savory; one Newville resident is looking to carve up some much-deserved recognition on Food Network’s “Halloween Wars: Hayride of Horror.”
Danny Kissel will show off his pumpkin carving skills on Oct. 2, 9 and 16 on Food Network.
The show, which pairs up cake makers, pumpkin carvers and confectioners to create sweet displays, airs at 10 p.m. and runs in syndication throughout the week.
“You like to believe your pumpkins are good,” Kissel said. “You like to believe that any work that you do, that you put your heart into is good.”
To call what Kissel does carving is an understatement. These are not the typical jack-o’-lanterns.
Just as sculptors can bring life out of large blocks of marble, Kissel brings the macabre to life by cutting, scraping, molding and shaping the orange gourds that are so bountiful this time of year.
As soon as pumpkins come into season, Kissel goes head-first into carving.
He said he carves roughly 100 pumpkins in a season, and the time he comes home from work to when he goes to bed is spent largely in his basement workspace.
“I can’t really explain the fascination with it,” Kissel said. “I’ve always loved horror movies, and I’ve always loved Halloween. I guess that has to do a lot with the fact that pumpkins are (in) that time frame and they symbolize Halloween to a lot of people. I don’t know if that’s the draw or not, but it’s really fun to do.”
This is Kissel’s second appearance on the cable television show.
He previously appeared in 2014, but said he didn’t feel he got to truly showcase his talents.
This time Kissel will be on all three episodes, since the format has changed a bit.
He said his appearance in 2014 has opened many doors for him to travel the country showing off his artwork and has garnered him a bit of celebrity status.
“The people recognize more the work that you do over the years. They don’t necessarily recognize you,” he said. “I talk to people all the time and they’ll say ‘I watch that every year. What did you make?’ And I’ll say ‘I made a two-headed pig and on the second episode we made a tree.’ They remember the details of the show, but the people get lost.”
At one event Kissel attended, he met a boy who seemed awestruck to be in his presence.
“He said ‘hey mister, I saw you on ‘Halloween Wars’ and that’s my favorite television show,’” Kissel said. “I was like cool, thanks, and he said, ‘can I get your autograph?’ I about cried. It was just an unbelievable experience.”
Along with his upcoming appearance on Food Network, Kissel will display his craft at the following locations:
5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 6 and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 7 at Reidenhour Farms at the intersection of Old Route 22 and Reservoir Road in Hamburg.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 9 at Paulus Farm and Market, 1216 S. York St., Mechanicsburg.
11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 21 at the West Reading Tavern and Restaurant, 606 Penn Ave., West Reading.
1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 22 at Field of Adventure at Smithfield Farms, 64 Tree Lane, Aspers.