The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

Image courtesy of: Tori Kuhr

By Tori Kuhr

The Hudson Valley’s very own Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze offers a unique experience of walking through paths of different jack o’lantern displays during the night, complete with thousands of jack o’lanterns.

The Blaze is a spectacle from the end of September to the end of November, integrating thousands of hand-carved jack o’lanterns in an array of designs. Located on the Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., the event has run for 13 years with each year bringing new and exciting creations and designs to the grounds. More than 10,000 “live” pumpkins are ordered that weigh between 5 and 50 pounds each; 200,000 pounds of pumpkins are used each year.

Rosemarie Budhwa, a sophomore English major at Mount Saint Mary College, said, “It was great. Amazing. Ten out of ten.”

Michael Natiello, the Blaze’s creative director, uses the arrangements and placements of the pumpkins to complement Van Cortlandt Manor’s architecture, history and landscape.

To make this event possible, 2,600 volunteers from organizations like ARC, Another Step, Cerebral Palsy of Westchester, Yonkers Boy and Girl Scout troops, Historic Hudson Valley staff and volunteers and many others scoop and light the thousands of pumpkins.

Each night, 15 to 20 volunteers start to light the votive candles in the pumpkins three hours before the event begins.

Some of the biggest attractions include a Pumpkin Statue of Liberty, a 20-foot Pumpkin Carousel, a Pumpkin Possum Posse, the Plus-Sized Pumpkin Planetarium and gourd-filled Jack-in-the-boxes springing to life.

Destiny Bettica, a sophomore biology major at Mount Saint Mary College, said, “I’ve never felt so spooky in my life.”

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze has 40 events from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, Oct. 5 to 31, Nov. 1 to 12, Nov. 17-18 and Nov. 24 to 25. It takes about an hour to walk through the grounds, but don’t be afraid to stay longer and linger.

Sunday through Thursday tickets are:

  • $20 per adults
  • $16 per children 3-17
  • Free for children under 3

Friday and Saturday tickets are:

  • $25 per adults
  • $20 per children 3-17
  • Free for children under 3

Last year the Blaze was sold out every night, so buy tickets early. Visit their website for more information and help purchasing tickets: http://www.hudsonvalley.org/events/blaze.