Pumpkin carver wins Witches Choice Award at Nibley City’s Halloween Decorating contest

Halloween is Linda and Dennis Coplen's second favorite holiday and the some 25 carved pumpkins add to the spirit of the holiday. The mummy he is holding is one of his favorite Jack O Lantern designs.

NIBLEY – Dennis Coplen won Nibley City’s Halloween Decorating Contest and Spooktacular tour’s Witches Choice Award for his yard decorations. But, his carved Jack-o-Lanterns are really something to see too, said Chad Wright, recreation director for the city.

Dennis Coplen o f Nibley has carved Jack  O Lanterns like these for over 20 years.

I’ve been carving pumpkins for a couple of decades now,” Coplen said. “I use a wood burning tool with an X-acto blade so I can do intricate cuts.”

Coplen said he has a regular kit and pattern anyone can buy at a craft store. He just puts the pattern on the pumpkin and follows it. He makes copies of the design from a book, pins them down to his pumpkin and uses a pin like tool to draw his lines, much like a dot to dot picture. Then he cuts them out with his wood burning tool.

“I use styrofoam-like pumpkins because the wood burning set with the blade makes it easy to carve,” he said. “The advantage of the styrofoam pumpkins is they don’t rot, and you can keep them for the next year.”

Dennis Coplen connects the dots with a pen before cutting into the pumpkin. The pumpkins take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half depending on the design.

Coplen has approximately 25 carved foam pumpkins in his house. His grandkids in Texas have some and his kids have some too. Halloween has become the second favorite holiday for him and his wife, Linda.

I buy those single LED lights used for Christmas lights and I even put them in pumpkins during the day,” he said. “Those lights are a lot brighter than you think.”

For a little variety, he paints some of the Jack-o-Lanterns different colors. Painting them gives Coplen a little flexibility.

He said he has no art background, but he does consider himself a crafter.

Dennis Coplen connects the dots with a pen before cutting into the pumpkin. The pumpkins take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half depending on the design.

“I used my Dremel for three or four years but the wood burner works better for me,” Coplen said. “I’ve been using the wood burning set-up since about 2000. It is much easier for me.”

Ten other Nibley homes were given awards for their Halloween decorations. The winners can be found at Nibley City’s website (nibleycity.com) and click on the Nibley Spooktacular Tour. The other awards, a map, the addresses and locations of the entries are listed.

The judges were from Nibley City and included city staff and the Parks and Recreation committee members. They evaluated the entries and placed them in different categories.

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