Pumpkins are fairly rare, I would say. I only found four patches total, in 3 different worlds. It's always nice to stumble upon a pumpkin patch, but they're not necessary to making cool stuff in MC. However, they are very useful for lights underwater.
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The only thing worse than Creepers? Zombie Creepers. After exploding, they come back from the dead to explode again. And again. And again.