Ray Villafane’s relationship with pumpkin carving began rather early in his life. Born in a poor farming family, he found himself having to make his own toys out of wood as times were very hard for Pa’ Villafane. As things got worse, he was forced to give up using wood to create his toys and eventually had to make them out of pumpkins as the precious wood was needed to heat the small farmhouse during the winter. Because his jack-o-lantern toys rotted away a week or so after making them, Ray found himself carving his pumpkin ideas nonstop just to keep his toy box from spoiling.
Throughout his academic career, Ray’s classmates and teachers also recognized his talent for the best pumpkin carvings. Ray graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 1991.
Despite all of the big-name products Ray was sculpting, the public seemed to be most intrigued with his ongoing jack-o-lantern faces. Ray has won back to back Food Network Challenges for his Halloween decorations and has been featured on many TV shows and news broadcasts including The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. In 2010 Ray was even invited to do Halloween pumpkins at the White House!