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Eye-popping 1,600-pound pumpkin on display in Dunedin yard

Tristen Liggett, 13, and his father, Dan Liggett, 41, show off the 1,633-pound pumpkin they are displaying in their front yard in Dunedin for Halloween. Dan’s parents, Bob and Jo Liggett, grew the pumpkin at their Ohio home before it was transported to Florida. Story, 7B

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Tristen Liggett, 13, and his father, Dan Liggett, 41, show off the 1,633-pound pumpkin they are displaying in their front yard in Dunedin for Halloween. Dan’s parents, Bob and Jo Liggett, grew the pumpkin at their Ohio home before it was transported to Florida. Story, 7B

DUNEDIN — It weighs as much as five refrigerators and is almost as big as a Smart car. It took eight men to move it a few feet.

The object in question? A 1,633-pound Midwest-grown pumpkin that sits in Dan Liggett's front yard.

The pumpkin has been at Liggett's home, 1532 Santa Clara Drive, since Tuesday. Liggett, 41, drove eight hours to Dalton, Ga. — about 40 minutes outside of Chattanooga — and got the gourd from his parents, who grow large pumpkins as a hobby.

"A lot of people take pictures as you're driving," he said.

The giant pumpkin is rooted in tradition. Liggett's parents live in Circleville, Ohio, a city of 13,000 with an annual pumpkin festival that attracts hundreds of thousands of people.

"The whole town shuts down for four days," he said.

Liggett's parents, Bob and Jo, took second place in this year's pumpkin contest, bested by a pumpkin that weighed 1,666 pounds. The couple has grown pumpkins for more than 20 years.

Liggett said his parents start the growing process in April, relying on fertilizer and specialty seeds.

Liggett and his siblings take turns displaying the largest gourd from his parents' crop. Eventually, he said, his parents will stop growing the pumpkins, which is one reason he wanted it in Dunedin both last year and this year.

Jane Morse, a horticultural extension agent with the University of Florida and Pinellas County Extension, confirmed that Liggett's pumpkin is a standout.

"Wow! That's pretty awesome," she said after hearing the pumpkin's weight. "That is quite a whopper."

Morse said it takes a lot of patience to grow large pumpkins.

"I don't think many people would even try," she said. "It takes some know-how."

And disposing of the pumpkin isn't easy.

The pumpkin sits in his yard, and if he leaves it in Florida's heat for more than a few days, it'll start to form mold inside.

Liggett thinks he'll keep it whole until Tuesday and use a chain saw to cut through the pumpkin's walls, which he estimates are at least 9 inches thick.

Then, he'll collect all of the seeds to mail back to his father for next year's pumpkin crop.

Last step? He fills up his own trash can and several others with the fruit's flesh.

Last year, it took 11 trash cans.

"I basically used all my neighbors that I could," he said.

Until then, the pumpkin will be in the Liggett family's front yard. Last year, hundreds of trick-or-treaters swarmed the house on Halloween.

Liggett welcomes the chaos.

"It's the ability to share something most people haven't seen," he said. "It's just fun."

Contact Ayana Stewart at astewart@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4153. Follow @AyanaStewart.

Eye-popping 1,600-pound pumpkin on display in Dunedin yard 10/30/15 [Last modified: Friday, October 30, 2015 10:15pm]
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