NEW YORK — Call it Gourd Central Terminal.
Giant pumpkins as big as 1,500 pounds were being carved Friday into fanged jaws and other eerie shapes before passers-by at New York's Grand Central Terminal. The event kicked off a weekend of giant-pumpkin carving at the New York Botanical Garden.
Big or small, pumpkin is "a great material to work from," master carver Ray Villafane said as he and fellow carvers worked on their spooky Halloween tableau. "When you carve a face or something into it, it's neat to see that little fruit come alive."
Little fruit was in short supply at Friday's event, though. One of the pumpkins Villafane and the others sculpted was 1,496-pounder grown in Edinburg, Pa. It was being shaped into a "carnivorous creature" with batteries of fearsome teeth.
And there are still bigger gourds on the botanical garden's Bronx grounds, including a 2,032-pound pumpkin from Napa, Calif. The garden is featuring more than 500 hand-carved pumpkin sculptures in an exhibit that extends through, naturally, Halloween.
Based in Surprise, Ariz., Villafane is well-known for his pumpkin-shaping prowess. He's appeared on the Food Network's "Halloween Wars" and other shows, shaping the squash into zombies, gargoyles, and other far-out forms.
"As pretty as a pumpkin might look, as soon as you cut it open, it's a whole different story," he said as he worked Friday.
Some are too dry. Others, too thin.
As for his advice to the everyday pumpkin carver: Pick one with some girth to it — and don't take it too seriously.
"Have fun," he said.
Associated Press video journalist Joe Frederick contributed to this report.