Since we’ve been expanding our coverage of New York City and the greater New York area this year, including Long Island and Westchester and Duchess Counties, I came across an incredible family event in Croton-on-Hudson called The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. The theme is Halloween and all things Autumn.
Continuing for a record of 28 selected evenings through mid November, The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze is Hudson Valley’s biggest all-ages Halloween extravaganza. A team of artists comes together to carve thousands of jacks, many fused together in elaborate constructions such as life-size dinosaurs and eight-foot-tall working jack-o’lanterns-in-the-box, all lit up throughout the wooded walkways, orchards, and gardens of historic Van Cortlandt Manor.
Carving of the art pumpkins begins in June and carving of the regular pumpkins begins in late September and continues throughout the run of the event, which ends on November 16. Some are harder to carve than others, such as the optical illusions and celtic knots, which can take an expert carver a full day to complete.
We saw a number of complicated carvings that ranged from dinosaurs, spider web, mushrooms, witches, dinosaurs, lions, monkeys, a giraffe, a big snake, gorilla, a birthday cake, graveyard of ghosts rising from the dead, monsters, venus flytraps, Chinese dragons, a massive crocodile, spiders and the large web that looked like a web but also a ferris wheel, skeletons, scarecrows, clowns, tumbling acrobats, sunflowers, the Headless Horseman throwing a pumpkin toward a covered bridge, “pumpkin infinity”, the doomsday clock, cats and bees.
The event drew more than 100,000 visitors last year and features more than 5,000 illuminated, individually hand-carved jack o’ lanterns. Favorite installations such as the Undersea Aquarium and Jurassic Park are joined this year by new creations including a life-size pumpkin version of Sleepy Hollow Country’s most iconic inhabitant, the Headless Horseman, and an enormous cake in celebration of this classic event’s tenth anniversary year.
To give you an idea of the scale of the event, it is led by Creative Director Michael Natiello, together with artists, staff and more than 1,000 volunteers. Café Blazé, by Geordane’s of Irvington, was on site offering culinary treats to attendees, such as soup, veggie chili, muffins, pumpkin cookies, and cider. They even have their own music dedicated to BLAZE, created by professional musician, radio personality, and Halloween fanatic Richard Christy.
The Great Jack O’Lantern BLAZE
Van Cortlandt Manor
525 South Riverside Avenue
It is just off Route 9 in Croton-on-Hudson