Louisiana's decorated pumpkin was on display at the White House during the Halloween holidays. It was created by local artist Leah Morace.

Artist Leah Morace holds her painted pumpkin, which represented the state in a 50-state display at the White House over Halloween.

Avoyelles artist chosen for ‘Louisiana Pumpkin’ display at White House

A bright blue, teal and white painted pumpkin depicting the Louisiana State Capitol Building and the state bird, the pelican, were displayed at the White House for Halloween.

Avoyelles Parish artist Leah Morace was the creator of the organic artwork that symbolized the state.

The project was handed to Morace without much warning. The Louisiana Office of Tourism contacted the Avoyelles Tourism Commission to ask if it knew an artist that could come up with a decorated pumpkin to represent Louisiana in a special display at the White House for 4,000 children of U.S. military service men and women.

The 50-pumpkin display was to represent each state, and the task fell to Avoyelles to make sure there was not a space between Kentucky and Maine.

“We immediately thought of Leah,” Tourism Co-Director Wilbert Carmouche said. “We thought about the pelican as the state bird and we know that Leah does a great job with birds.”

He called her, she graciously accepted, completed the assignment and the decorated gourd was over-nighted to Washington, D.C., where it helped to make the White House more festive for its special guests.

The response was overwhelmingly positive, with one event organizer saying if it had been a competition, Louisiana's entry would have won hands-down.

The pumpkin also made it to the desk of fellow Avoyellean Michael Mahfouz, who works as a travel manager for the White House in Washington, D.C. He is the son of Al and Tanya Mahfouz.
His desk was one of many to temporarily hold the pumpkins before they were placed on display. When the Louisiana pumpkin arrived, Mahfouz was pleased and proud to discover that it was created by his former childhood babysitter, Leah.

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