Tyson Zullo

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 My Story: Pumpkin Nights influences the lives of artistic professionals 


Bio photoAbout Me

Experienced Guest Services Coordinator with a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit industry. Skilled in communication, analysis, adaptability, teamwork, and critical Thinking. Strong operations professional, who is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree focused in Strategic Communication at the University of Utah.

Reflection Blog 

When I learned that the primary mission of the organization Pumpkin Nights was to showcase local artists, I was really fascinated with the idea. It drove me to ask questions such as “To what extent does this organization go, to aid the artists in achieving recognition?” and “How has being affiliated with the organization Pumpkin Nights, benefited the artists?” I began to look at this organization through a new scope, and I was suddenly overcome with a desire to discover the answers to these questions and learn the truth for myself.  I decided to tell the untold story, of how Pumpkin Nights has made an impact in the lives of artistic professionals.

On the website there is no direct number that can be used to contact an event organizer, fortunately however the company does have a section on their Instagram page that contains the contact information of the participating artists. Via direct messenger, I was able to message artists Toby Draper, Katie Kasen, and Scott Hard. I never heard back from Hard, however Draper and Kasen responded immediately, they were very supportive with this story, and they referred me to their fellow colleague Alyssa Orton, and an event organizer, Chelsea Kasen.

I strongly feel that these sources were the best for this story in particular, because they all have experienced the benefits of being affiliated with this organization on a first-hand basis. It was so fascinating how each of the artists were able to provide diverse angles on the story, and have benefited from their association with this organization in their own unique way. The most remarkable thing that I was able to learn while writing this story is, Pumpkin Nights not only strives to help local artists gain recognition, but they also train, and help these artist develop the necessary skills in order to take their artistic careers to new heights.

Pumpkin Nights Influences the lives of artistic professionals 

By Tyson Zullo

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah— Three artists and an event organizer, illustrate the impact that the event Pumpkin Nights can have in the life of an artistic professional.

Since the year 2016 Pumpkin Nights has been an organization that is dedicated to showcase local artists, via a very unique medium. Pumpkins, (most of them being artificial) of all different shapes and sizes, that are used not only to showcase the superb talent of local artists but create a memorable experience for its audience. This event now is held in four cities which are LA, Auburn, Denver, and Salt Lake City.

Toby Draper was able to become associated with the Organization last year, “I’ve done a few things building up for this, I’ve done tech jobs before I was an account executive, now it’s hard to describe exactly what I do, but it’s definitely more fulfilling,” (Draper). This artist participated in the production of the Giant Octopus and both of the Pirate ships.

Being affiliated with Pumpkin nights has played a significant role in Drapers’ artistic career, “It’s mainly helped me with my creativity, I’ve really learned how people interact with the things that you build,” he said (Draper).

Katie Kasen, became involved last year, through her sister Chelsea Kasen who is both one of the founders, and an event organizer of Pumpkin Nights. While she was studying at BYU she was offered a job to work there, and she decided to take a semester off studying. Katie  worked at Pumpkin Nights in the previous year, however this year she was placed on a different team. This year Kasen was tasked with the Styrofoam projects, and the nine foot giant Jack-O-Lynn. “I was able to use so many of my artistic skills, but at the same time develop more, there is so much that they don’t teach you in school.” She said (Kasen).

This experience inspired Katie to change her major from chemical engineering to graphic design, and she was also interviewed by BYU radio, and engaged in a freelance project for a local haunted house. “Pumpkin Nights has been a milestone in my career,” she said (Kasen).

Alysa Orton who graduated with a degree in illustration from BYU, became involved with this project via a graphic design internship, “When I was in school I never thought that I would be working on Pumpkins” she said (Orton). Orton mainly worked on the owls, and the Day of the Dead sector. Along with working at Trader Joes, Orton would work two days a week at Pumpkin Nights, and she relished the experience. “It was really cool to have 2 days a week where I could be surrounded by a lot of creative people,” (Orton).

Orton feels that her portfolio has been “boosted” having participated in this event. Rather than just drawing, she was granted the opportunity to be trained in, and utilize sculpting tools. “I had to learn how to simplify, which is such a big thing in design,” (Orton).

Chelsea Kasen, is one of the organizers for this event, and she has been involved for two years. At first she was seeking to start an event in Manhattan, but then she became affiliated with John Tanner, and they decided to create an event that was inspired by Jack-O-Blaze in New York. Planning this event, requires a full year, and before the event ends, the Organizers are already planning for next year. “As the event is going, I am thinking about what other markets we will go into next year,” (Kasen). This organization utilizes the feedback from participant surveys in order to diagram a plan, and as an event organizer Kasen not only works on the product, but sets up guides for either previous event directors or newly hired ones.

The artists who work at this event, possess the skills to implement the vision, however they have never done it on such a large scale. “Working here they are forced to streamline processes, think of better ways to do things, use cheaper materials, and figure out how to make something last for a while,” (Kasen).  Not only does Pumpkin nights showcase the talent of these artists, but they also focus their efforts on recruiting other Industrial design companies such as TEA, a company that specializes in global networking for artists.

There is much more than appears at the surface of this event, and its mission. Evidently the artists who engage in implementing the vision of this organization will be presented with opportunities that will challenge their abilities to think critically, work well with a team, and become more time efficient. Pumpkin Nights does not only focus on showcasing local artists but training them as well, and help them reach new heights both in their knowledge and artistic abilities. It is an unforgettable experience which enchants its audience, and grants the artists the opportunity to truly “do something that is meaningful,” (Draper).

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Amy Boud

My Story:

  • Hale Centre Theatre’s new updates are expanding Utah’s footprint in the performing arts industry.

About Me:


I am a current Communication major at the University of Utah, and an Assistant Event Coordinator with Stadium and Arena Event Services.  My plan is to graduate and become a destination wedding planner in Park City, UT.  My husband Troy is a solar engineer, and we are the proud parents of a little Schmorky (Schitzu, Yorky, Maltese mix) puppy named Goob.  Together we hope to make the world a better place by helping the environment, and helping people to live their dreams.


Reflection Blog:

My journey in researching my story on Hale Centre Theatre began as I went to see their performance of The Scarlet Pimpernel.  I have always loved going to see performances at the HCT in West Valley. The performance at the new location in Sandy struck my interest in how these changes may have affected performing artists here in the valley. I have several friends who participate in HCT productions or who aspire to be in one.  I wanted to do some digging to see if this new location might increase performing artists’ chances of making a living doing what they love.

The first interview I landed was with Lexi Walker, a recently casted lead in HCT’s Wizard of Oz.  I was excited to do this interview with Lexi, but at the last minute her agent decided that she should not do the interview due to the time the performances and practices had been taking out of her school work.  Instead, I was able to find a long-time HCT patron, Christian Winder, who had a great experience with both the old and new locations.

Then I contacted Rhonda Greenwood, a publicist who writes for a lot HCT.  She sent me her notes and her recent press release she wrote for their first year anniversary with the new building.  This information was incredibly helpful in comparing the growth from the old location to the new!

The last interview I did was with an aspiring performing artist, Katya Wagstaff. She is currently double majoring at the University of Utah in Musical Theatre and Communication, and has been keeping her eye on HCT as a potential spot for performing jobs.

All of these interviews really helped me to see a bigger picture of what these recent updates at HCT have done for them as a company as well has how it has affected the community.

Kyle Lanterman



  •  Exemplary service through University of Utah’s Bennion Center

MY BLOG: Volunteering

ABOUT ME: Kyle Lanterman is currently a student-athlete at the University of Utah enrolled in the College of Humanities and is studying Communication. Some of his research interests include different theories of communication, interpersonal communication and issues with relationships, and journalism. Kyle hails from Long Beach, California where he earned his high school degree at Woodrow Wilson High School. In the city of Long Beach, Kyle spent time as a member of Long Beach Search & Rescue. He enjoys to reading, video games, and various outdoor activities.

Bring the fire, bring the energy: The Nu Tribe

Story and slideshow by MCKENZIE YCMAT

At the edge of Salt Lake City in a small quiet neighborhood, a grocery store is closing for the night as the rest of the town gets ready for bed. It’s 10:00, the streets are dark and the parking lot is empty, except for a glowing light at the far end of the building. Music is blasting, laughs can be heard from the street, it sounds like a party. This is where the Nu Tribe gets together every Thursday night.

The energy in the Just Dance studio at 8087 W. 3500 South in Magna is contagious. The air is hot, the energy is high, everyone laughs but focuses on the teacher for the day when it’s time to dance. On that late night in early March, the teacher was a sassy but passionate man named Nate with a confident 9-year-old sidekick named Susie. The song of choice was “Oh” by Ciara.

Susie is the DJ and quickly runs back and forth between the plugged in iPhone and the front of the dance floor. The students yell and laugh when the music starts and follow the dance moves Nate taught them earlier in the night, with a mix of their own style.

“It’s the only time and place that we can practice for cheap,” Ofa Vahe said. “But we don’t mind. We’re just happy we get to teach dance.”

Vahe is one of the original founders of the Nu Tribe, alongside other dancers Moana Aiono and Teresa Kuma. The Nu Tribe is a Utah-based dance crew consisting of only Polynesian dancers who travel all over the state to teach others about their heritage. They also provide the younger generation of Polynesians a safe place to dance.

Each week a member of the Nu Tribe teaches a class of about 20 students, usually members of the Polynesian community, for an hour. The dance styles change every week so that the students learn different traditional dance routines.

“Our rule is that no matter what style the teacher brings that week, you have to fully submerge yourself in that style,” Vahe said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s hip hop, ballet, contemporary, or anything else the teacher wants to do that day, you have to do it.”

The Nu Tribe teachers mix up their styles of dance to teach the students about different forms of expressing themselves and getting that sense of love and family that the Polynesian community teaches.

Polynesian dancing started as a way of communication for most of the islands in the Pacific, including Tahiti, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and Hawaii. Traditional Polynesian dancing was used to tell a story and to convey a literal meaning that they carry with them after they leave.

After the first hour, the second teacher steps up to teach her choice of dance for the day. She’s a quiet, petite woman who quietly steps up to the front of the class. But once the music starts she becomes a confident and sexy hip-hop dancer.

“That’s Hannah Gagon,” Vahe said. “Growing up, she was always extremely shy and reserved but once she was introduced to the Nu Tribe, we realized she was this insanely talented dancer. Now she teaches her own classes throughout the week.”

The Nu Tribe brings together those in the Polynesian community and gets them to step outside of their comfort zones and enjoy the art of dance expression. Just like traditional Polynesian dances, they aim to tell a story.

Once everyone has learned the two different dances for the night, the teacher splits the class up by groups and has the students dance together. After that, they separate everyone one by one and eventually, a student will find themselves dancing alone.

This technique allows a student who stepped into the class for the first time, shy and hidden in the back of the room, to suddenly show confidence on their own as other members of the class cheer them on, chant their name, and even record them on their phones to share on social media so they can share the love with others not there.

“After I broke up with my fiancé, I was depressed and needed friends,” said Dook Kelsall, a member of the Nu Tribe. “I found the Nu Tribe through my friend Ofa and now we’re like family. He gave me a safe place to express myself and helped me through that tough time.”

By now, it’s midnight and it’s the end of the second hour. Everyone gathers around in a circle to share positivity and any news they have involving the class or news within the Polynesian community. They hold hands, introduce new people to the class, and say a prayer.

“Thank you for the gift of dance, amen,” says a member of the Nu Tribe giving the prayer after they all bow their heads and close their eyes.

Once the prayer is over, they gather closer together in a type of group hug and share more positive words and love with each other. Vahe proclaims, “Bring the fire, bring the energy!” and the entire group yells “Nu Tribe!” They give hugs and high fives and gather their things. Some even still dance around and laugh. It’s late at night and many of the students have to wake up early the next day for school, but they don’t care. They’re with family and they’re just there to have fun, learn and feel loved.

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Tribal tattoos are more than just a fad


Fred Frost, owner of Frost City Tattoo. Photo by Diego Romo

Story and photos by DIEGO ROMO

The first thing you notice when walking into Frost City Tattoo is an overwhelming sense of community and inclusiveness. It’s as if the shop were a working and living metaphor for the values that most, if not all, Pacific Islanders stand for: community and tradition.

A warm “hello” greets you as you push open the door, quickly followed by a “make yourself at home” and inviting conversation.

But as you walk around and begin to explore the shop, the work of the artists grabs your attention. The walls are filled with pictures of the beautiful motifs that have ornamented the bodies of generations and generations of Pacific Islanders, which entices your focus and sustains it. The tradition is deep and diverse. The art is unique and beautiful.

Anthropologists agree that the tradition of tattooing has existed in Pacific Islander society for over two millennia. Almost all of the island societies scattered across the Pacific have some form of tattoo culture that permeates their community and helps indicate their place in it.

Although experts disagree on the geographical origin of tattooing — there is evidence of tattoos on the preserved skin of Egyptian mummies and countless other ancient cultures — historians can agree that the linguistic history of the word derives from the Samoan word tatau, which means “to strike.”

Called “kakau” in Hawaiian culture and “moko,” the traditional name for the face tattoos of the Maori in New Zealand, the art has always played an integral role in Pacific Islander society.

“Tattooing is as fundamental to Pacific Islander culture as anything else,” said Fred Frost, owner of Frost City Tattoo, which is located at 7045 State St. in Midvale.

Frost, who has been tattooing for 20 years, never saw the craft as a potential career choice. He got into the art by giving tattoos to friends as party favors when he was a young man living in California.

By the time he was 16, Frost gained an apprenticeship with a shop in California and had begun to discover his passion, which in turn helped him to learn more about himself.

“I actually learned how to speak Samoan through tattooing,” Frost said.

Frost jumped into research and began practicing the ancient motifs that are prevalent in Pacific Island tattooing, becoming a master in the process.

The traditional style of tribal tattoo varies from island to island, but the most common themes seen in the tattoos are strength and the representation of the environment in which they lived.

Many agree that the repeated use of triangles, which are representative of shark teeth, generally symbolizes strength and protection. Another very common pattern seen is the spiral-esque design meant to represent waves.

Because the early societies of the Pacific Islands had no written language, they used tattoos as a means of communication between members of the society.

According to Kealalokahi Losch, an expert in Pacific Islander culture, agrees that tattoos were a way of preserving history and culture, as well as a means of broadcasting one’s individuality.

“For Polynesian people it’s kind of our identity. It’s our thing,” said Lala Ellsworth, a tattoo artist working at Frost City Tatau.


Lala Ellsworth, a tattoo artist at Frost City Tattoo. Photo by Diego Romo

Historically, tattoos contained symbolism that related to the matriarchal and patriarchal lines of the family. They displayed successful hunts and the spoils of war. They also denoted what standing in the society one had, be it king or warrior, and even the origins of their ancestor.

Frost credits these characteristics for his passion and interest in the style. He really liked the fact that he was “able to tell a story using our language.”

Tattoos also played a very personal role in the sense that they shared the story of the bearer to the world. But they were never about the individual, as is the case with most Pacific Islander culture and practices.

“There’s no individual. That doesn’t exist in our style,” Frost said. “You’re all about the family, the clan, and community in a way that makes you whole.”

Historians state that as European cultures began to make contact with the Pacific Island communities, the practices and techniques of Polynesian tattooing began to spread and influence styles all over the world.

“All islanders have always gifted tattoos to foreigners,” Frost added.

And despite many efforts by zealous religious missionaries to curb the practice, it’s still thriving two thousand years later

Frost said that there is a large and growing market of Pacific Islanders who wish to continue the tradition of receiving the tattoos as part of their cultural identity — those who truly understand the deep meaning of the symbolism and the history of the art.

But you do not have to be of Pacific Island descent to appreciate and understand their style of tattooing.

“There’s a lot of non-Polynesians getting Polynesian stuff,” Frost said.

He added that this is a factor in what’s keeping the art alive. The symbols and their meanings are universal. They tell the story of all humans, just through the lens of the Pacific Islander experience.

“The meaning behind it is relatable to anyone in the world,” Frost added. “It’s just done in our style.”

Zay Dela Pena, who has tattooed at Frost City Tatau for three years, was born in Hawaii and grew up in a very religious family. The traditional, Polynesian style tattoos that were inspired by his culture and his spirituality by interweaving symbolism and meaning between the two identities.


Zay Dela Pena tattooing a client at Frost City Tattoo. Photo by Diego Romo

“I had to figure out a way to connect the cultural symbols to spiritual symbols,” he said.

Dela Pena, like many others, was able to see the universal qualities in the symbols and add his own experience and identity to the tattoo, deepening its meaning.

Although the art-form has remained highly unchanged over its two thousand year existence, artists are now beginning to blend styles and create pastiches that contain the influence of many different works and cultures.

“What’s happening now is you’re seeing an evolution,” Fred Frost said. “Because artists are becoming diverse.”

Younger artists like Jroo Winquist are influenced by the tattoos of their older relatives and peers, but are continuing the Pacific Islander tattooing legacy through exploring different and newer styles.

“I love the look of tribal,” Winquist said. “It’s aesthetically so pleasing.”

But Winquist stated his favorite style of tattoo to work on is contemporary, modern and even surrealistic. Still the art is influenced in some way by the traditional Pacific Islander style.

Fred Frost said the traditional style of Polynesian tattooing will not be going away any time soon.

“It has stood the test of time until now, so I’m sure it will last,” he said.

As the buzz of the tattoo guns begins to fade, the conversation builds at Frost City Tatau in Midvale. Those who have just finished receiving their new ink don’t just pay and leave — they stay and talk for a while. Because before anything else, community and family come first in the Pacific Islander tradition.


Dayna Bae



Before I take this course, I expected writing about the special topic that I am interested in. I thought I could choose my own subject for beat reporting. Against my expectations, the topic of beat reporting of this course was tied to one specific topic in a community. I never expected that, but I thought working on the same topic with many peers was a tremendous experience since I could witness diverse perspectives on the same subject. Through this, I learned that each person has a different view on perceiving and interpreting the same topic, even if each individual belongs to the same local community.

Processed with MOLDIVAt first, I got many mistakes and errors in formatting and editing. I faced lots of difficulties when I tried to reach people for an interview. Amongst many difficulties, the most difficult part was a language. Since English is not my first language, I was intimidated by lacking English skills and fluency. I was also extremely stressed by the lack of human sources to interview for my article. Contacting and reaching people are still stressful to me like all other journalists think. However, I got used to the stressful pressure. I think practicing language skills and finding resources are the inevitable part of life for journalists.

Since this course is focused on the issues of local community, I was an outsider from the very beginning of the semester. I am a student from the Asia Campus, which is located in South Korea, and this is my first semester in Salt Lake City. Thus, I was not familiar with any local issues or events and geographical information. However, thanks to being an outsider, I could have a more objective point of view on the topic, and I could feel more empathy with the Pacific Islanders in Utah. I cannot say that I was not affected by that since my reporting is related to outsider’s viewpoint. Thanks to the Voices of Utah, I could learn lots of professional skills and utilize every source as a journalist. It was a precious experience of testing my ability and possibility in my field.


I am a senior studying communication and concentrating on journalism at the University of Utah. I studied social work before I changed my major to communication in 2017. Experiences in social work made me have a significant interest in human rights issues as well as humanitarian aid. I am passionate to become a reporter at the United Nations News Center along with my journalism career.

I love arts, music and travel. During my free time, I enjoy taking photographs and capturing everyday lives in still images. I also love to write a novel mostly about love and friendship. I appreciate art and art history, so I am also interested in writing art columns after getting an academic degree in art history in the future. I believe that I am an artistic person. I also believe in the power of writing, regardless of any types of writings. One day, I want to publish my own articles that can make people impressed and think with various perspectives.

Diego Romo



Writing for Voices of Utah this semester has been a really rewarding experience. I have learned so much about the Pacific Islander community in Utah and I’ve met great people along the way.

I had no idea what to expect when I walked in the doors of room 2840, all I knew was that we were covering Pacific Islanders and that I was excited to hit the ground running.

My initial expectation for this beat was that it was going to be a fun subject to cover over the semester because I was going to be learning a lot. Before Voices, I did not have much exposure to Pacific Islander culture other than the stereotypical way in which their culture is presented in America: hula dancers, luaus, and leis. But, because I know all too well the American tendency to gather groups of very diverse cultures and fit them into a box, I knew that there was absolutely more to this story.

And I was definitely right.

I learned about that hardships that Micronesians face when attempting to secure proper healthcare in the United States. I learned about the long history of Pacific Islanders in Utah, a history that is as old as the state itself, and of the values of community and tradition over which Pacific Islanders value over anything else.

I really enjoyed that this class was a “community engaged” learning experience. It gave me the opportunity to meet people in the community and get to know them on a personal level. It also helped me to better understand the beat as a whole because I was able to experience firsthand the values of community, family and tradition that are most definitely alive within this culture.

A topic that I covered that really resonated with me this semester was the topic of culture. Through my research and interview process for my first and second stories I learned a lot about myself and my identity. A lot of the people I interviewed come from Pacific Island heritage, but grew up in a very Anglo community and were raised on American culture. I found that this left a lot of people feeling lost between the two cultural identities, not really fitting in to either of them. I relate to this experience because I am Hispanic, but grew up going to Catholic school and was raised in a predominately Anglo community. This experience definitely affected the way I felt about my cultural identity. I felt like an imposter among my people.

Going forward I’m happy to take the skills that I learned in Voices of Utah with me to better improve my career as a journalist and I know I will look back on this experience with pride.


IMG_8321-2Diego Romo is a multimedia journalist based out of Salt Lake City. Born and raised in the desert heat of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Diego found an interest in storytelling very early in life. From the very beginning he was obsessed with the craft of writing and began to author essays for various state level and regional competitions. Through these essay contests, he discovered his passion for journalism and political science.

At age 16, Diego moved to Layton, Utah, with his family and it is here where he began to further explore storytelling through the lenses of photography and videography.

More recently, Diego has turned an internship with Deerfield Media into a full-time position as co-host of the “Mountain Morning Show” and news anchor for “PCTV Reports” on Park City Television.  He is wrapping up a Bachelor’s Degree in communication with a minor in political science and is set to graduate from the University of Utah in fall of 2018.