Monday, October 17, 2011

The Pumpkin Man

This is a re post from 2009, a tribute to Nick Venetucci
Fred Darpino did the sculptures of Nick Venetucci and these are his pictures. The sculpture stands in front of the Colorado Springs Pioneer Museum.
Nick Venetucci was a hero to hundreds of kids in Colorado Springs. It was a sad day on September 7, 2004 when Nick passed away at the age of 93. To all of us, he was known as The Pumpkin Man and goodness lived in his heart and soul.
As a boy Nick dreamed of becoming a pro baseball player, he even made it to the New York Yankee's farm system as a catcher. But, in the 1930's he came home to Fountain, Colorado to tend the family farm. (Fountain is on the outskirts of Colorado Springs and you have to know when one ends and one begins because it all blends together).
Nick became a farmer of corn, alfalfa, asparagus and pumpkins. He married a wonderful woman and teacher from the Colorado Springs Deaf and Blind school by the name of Bambi, who was blind. In 1951, Nick was driving down the road with a truck full of pumpkins, he noticed that kids would watch with eyes glued to the truck. So, he stopped and gave every kid a pumpkin that walked down that road.
The next year, a teacher asked if she could bring her kids to his farm to see a pumpkin patch. He said yes and gave each child a pumpkin. And thus a tradition was born, every year school buses loaded with children would come and pick out and a pumpkin. Parents would bring their kids and they could pick out a pumpkin. Nick was crowned the Pumpkin Man from that day on and every child in Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas loved him.
Lisa Gazarek was 4 years old and attended the Deaf and Blind School when she went to the Venetucci farm. Bambi was her teacher, Nick lifted Lisa up over the fence so she could see what a pig looked like. In her tribute to Nick, she recalled that time and said Nick had "gentle larger then life hands".
Nick and Bambi had no kids of their own but they had a town of children and their children and their children and their children that loved them. Nick was their hero and the goodness of his heart made Halloween a special time.
When Nick died he left his farm to the Pikes Peak Community Foundation. They still have and grow pumpkins. And children still come to pick a pumpkin.

Elementary children started a fund to have a statue done of Nick, the pictures are of the statue that was done.
And every year we think of Nick and the goodness of his heart. We miss you Pumpkin Man but you are in our hearts forever and every time we see a pumpkin.


Kay Dennison said...

I love people like Nick! They are the saints who walk among us.

Anonymous said...

What a great story and “WOW” that statue and memorial - that is absolutely a work of art! Such detail and almost perfect representation of his contribution to the community. I have to say that statue would be one of my first stops if traveling through Colorado Springs area.

Alan G

Looking to the Stars said...

Kay, I love people like Nick too. They give me hope in the human race and I know that there are many out there. We have yet to hear thier stories.

Alan G, thank you for your kind words. I found the name of the guy who did the statue, his name is Fred Darpino. I'm going to edit the story and put his name in.

If you do come this way, do stop by the Pioneer's Museum and see it. It is amazing, also a woman plants pumpkin seeds every year so that real pumpkins are around the statue :)

kenju said...

Thanks for posting this. I love the statuary.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the name and update. I saw the surrounding real "pumpkin patch" and was wondering if someone did plant a patch each year as you noted....

Thanks - Alan G

Darlene said...

I must get back to the Pioneer Museum to see if they are displaying my mother's buckskin outfit. She was the first Queen of the Pike's Peak or Bust Rodeo. I donated the outfit to the museum after she died. When, and if, I do I will have to see the Pumpkin Man statue.

Looking to the Stars said...

Kenju, thanks, glad you enjoyed the statue of Nick :)

Alan G, your welcome. The fact about the lady planting the pumpkin seeds didn't dawn on me till I was answering your earlier comment :)

Darlene, that is so cool about your mom. You must do a post on her. The first Queen of the Rodeo is such an honor. I have to pop down there to the museum to see the outfit. That is so cool that you donated it. You have to write all these neat stories down, they are so important to our history here :)

Darlene said...

I wrote a story for The Story Telling Place about my Mom and included the story of her rodeo queen days. You can find it under my name of authors starting with Time Goes By, the blog written by Ronni Bennett. From there you go to the Story Telling Place and find my name as a story teller.

Lydia said...

I loved this post! What a beautiful story and statue. I've gotta see it someday.

Looking to the Stars said...

Darlene, thanks, I will go to Ronni's blog and read it.

Lydia, thanks. It truly is a wonderful statue and you will enjoy it. The man himself planted seeds of love in all of us :)

Beth Niquette said...

What a wonderful story. The gentle life of a strong man who's love touched generations of children. Thank you for sharing this.

The statue is SO beautifully done.

Looking to the Stars said...

Beth, thank you. I agree, the statue is so well done. Everytime I look at it, I wait for it to come alive.

When the statue was done Bambi looked at it (she is Nick's wife and blind, she felt every crease in the statue) and she told Fred that it looked just like Nick :) that's how good he did it. It brings tears to my eyes writing about it.
Have a good one, kiddo

scott davidson said...

Beautiful banner at your site as well, I am reminded of some wall paintings by the Mexican artist, Diego Rivera, such as this one You browse more murals of his at

Looking to the Stars said...

thanks Scott