It's official. Travis Gienger of Anoka now holds world records for the heaviest jack-o'-lantern and the largest jack-o'-lantern. Officials with Guinness World Records certified both records over the weekend.
The feats came just weeks after Gienger set a North American record for growing the largest pumpkin, which weighed in at 2,650 pounds at the 2022 Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off.
Gienger enlisted friend and experienced pumpkin carver Mike Rudolph, of St. Cloud, to transform the giant pumpkin Gienger named "Maverick" into an eagle-shaped jack-o'-lantern on Oct. 28 as part of Anoka's Halloween celebration. The jack-o-lantern had a pre-carved stem-to-blossom circumference of 242 inches, which set another record.
This is an updated story. Read the original report from Oct. 29 below:
An Anoka man who set a North American record for growing the heaviest pumpkin went for another record Friday: Turning the big gourd into the world's largest jack-o'-lantern.
Travis Gienger enlisted the help of a professional sculptor to carve the pumpkin — dubbed "Maverick" after it recovered from a mid-growing season accident — into a giant eagle. Gienger lent a hand by scooping out the seeds and pulp inside the 2,560-pound prize, which won the 2022 Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off.
"We're hoping it turns out pretty cool," Gienger said.
The work began about 8 a.m. outside Anoka City Hall, where the record-setting pumpkin has been on view this week. Over 12 hours, carver Mike Rudolph of St. Cloud planned to use a sculpting rod, along with a bevy of smaller tools, to transform Maverick into its final form. The process is similar to how sculptors mold blocks of ice into masterpieces at the St. Paul Winter Carnival.
"We are excited to see what it turns into," Gienger said, noting there is no blueprint to follow. "Mike has his work cut out for him."
Officials from Guinness World Records are expected to arrive in Anoka on Saturday to certify the feat, and present Gienger with a certificate for the world's largest jack-o-lantern.
The pumpkin carving is among scores of events taking place this weekend in Anoka, which bills itself as the Halloween Capital of the World. Festivities began at 1:15 p.m. Friday with the Big Parade of Little People, featuring elementary school children in costume marching on the historic Main Street.
On Saturday, Gienger's pumpkin will be one of the featured attractions in the Grande Day Parade through downtown Anoka. The parade begins at 1 p.m. Other events Saturday include the Gray Ghost Halloween 5K and 1-mile walk at 12:45 p.m. and the Ambassador Coronation at 6 p.m. at Anoka High School.
Gienger, a horticulture teacher who has been growing large pumpkins for 28 years, was one of 10 contestants who participated in the pumpkin weigh-off competition in California in early October. He won more than $23,000.
Since then, the pumpkin has been in demand. TV shows have been calling Gienger for interviews and the pumpkin has been on show in several cities.
But Gienger is thrilled his gourd made it back to where it grew up.
"Anoka is my hometown. To bring it back here is really cool," he said. "I'm glad it went here."