From cold storage to 3.5 million views: Johnny Marchant's pumpkins come alive

They sit in cold storage, stuffed into boxes for 334 days a year, but come October 1, it's show time for Johnny Marchant's special pumpkins.  

"I'll come out and sit for an hour and just watch them," Marchant told KTVU about his glowing pumpkins. "It's like a Christmas tree." 

For the last 20 years, Marchant’s Walnut Creek driveway has been a must-see Halloween extravaganza, with more than 250 creatively-carved styrofoam pumpkins sparkling in the night. 

His designs range from Disney witches to haunted mansions to Supreme Court Justices to monsters inspired by artificial intelligence.

They all feature intimate details and practically come alive. 

But make no mistake, these pumpkins are very much dead.  

"They are all fake, they are all Styrofoam," he said. "That's how I can keep so many looking so nice without rotting."  

Marchant's pumpkin-carving origins date back to the late 1950s when paper-mache gourds were part of his father’s Halloween display.  

Six decades later, he's taking it to new heights creating 25 new carvings each October.  

"It's meditation. You zone out and forget about everything," Marchant said. "Any artist will tell you that you're just concentrating so hard on your stuff that you aren't thinking of anything. That's the fun of it."      

Marchant usually carves in the evening hours with a technique called "shading."   

The deeper the cut the lighter the color which gives the pumpkins a three-dimensional look.   

He calls his carvings his "kids" and each kid takes a good three to four hours to create, meaning there's easily over 1,000 hours of carving time in his display.  

That's 41 days of work, and it’s all done with a Dremel.   

"I feel like a dentist," Marchant said with a laugh. "I really relate to my dentist and her drilling away on my teeth."     

Neighbor Neil Berg was so impressed with Marchant's that work he posted a display video online and was blown away by the response.   

"It took off," Berg said. "We got 3.5 million views and multiple tags. People were going nuts. It was a really great experience seeing the carvings take off like that."

Marchant loves his "kids," but he sells a handful each year.  

The pumpkins aren't promoted, and the sales are all done by word-of-mouth.

Residents are encouraged to check out the display, but Marchant has one rule: "Don't touch," he said. 

Marchant’s display will be up through the first week of November.  

You can find his 250 pumpkins on his instagram page: @Marchant9941