What the

Pumpkin

Wrought

Things are scary enough these days without throwing goblins and witches into the mix, so Saturday's Halloween party at Rebecca Allen's house featured pumpkins as the main attraction. "The Great Pumpkin Challenge 2002" actually started this past spring, when Allen, a stay-at-home mom, took seeds from last year's pumpkin and passed them out to her friends. Everyone got 10 seeds and newsletters every few weeks explaining the art of growing a pumpkin. Pumpkins, it turns out, like milk, sour cream and yogurt in their soil. Some seeds were sterile; others produced ghastly imitations of a pumpkin. All the gourds were on display at the party, with more than 100 friends gathered at Allen's Vienna home.

Winners for ugliest, prettiest, biggest, heaviest, tallest and best-named pumpkin walked away with a six-pack of pumpkin ale. "I'm not a gardener," said Linda Teter, dressed as a rather bulky pumpkin. "So I thought, what can I do to compete?" Her costume won her "best reasonable facsimile." Best-in-show honors went to Kelly Norton-Gligorovic and her "Pumpsterone" -- a freakishly large, misshapen pumpkin complete with muscle shirt. "It's been given steroids -- that's cheating!" joked neighbor Stan Kylis, whose own seeds were eaten by a family of deer.

Guess we know where the Great Pumpkin is going this year.

The Women's

Museum's First 15

We're all for bringing out the best in women, so Thursday's fall benefit for the National Museum of Women in the Arts was just what the chanteuse ordered. Invitations for the evening asked for black-tie or other cabaret attire; Ruth Noble Groom, Lisa McCormick, Aniko Gaal Schott, Gilan Tocco Corn and Elizabeth Hutchinson, below, responded with feather boas, lace, fringe or other playfully provocative dress. Martinis were downed, candy cigarettes distributed, and guests just a bit too naughty for polite company. Hooray, hooray.

Classical soprano Rosa Lamoreaux, above, accompanied by pianist Betty Bullock, discovered her Inner Vamp with a high slit in her gown and a low purr in her voice. Museum founder Wilhelmina Cole Holladay looked very satisfied, but perhaps it was the fact the institution is celebrating its 15th anniversary. "Fifteen years ago, a lot of people wouldn't have given this museum 15 minutes, much less 15 years," said artist Bill Dunlap, who was introduced by Lamoreaux as "Washington's art champion and resident bad boy."

Well, it was that kind of night.

Catholic University's Honor Role

Gospel and blues singer Aaron Neville didn't go to Washington's Catholic University, but he did attend Catholic school in New Orleans until eighth grade. Close enough for CU, which honored him Saturday night with its James Cardinal Gibbons Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the alumni association. More than 250 guests gathered at the Omni Shoreham Hotel as part of Catholic's homecoming weekend to pay homage to Neville and awardees including alumna Angela Capobianco Santomero, co-creator of "Blue's Clues."

"I'm thrilled to the bone to be here," said Neville (left, with university president Rev. David O'Connell). Maybe next time the school will hand Neville an honorary degree? Yeah, he smiled: "Doctor of Song."

With Janelle Erlichman