Impossible things with pumpkins: 2015’s GREAT JACK O’LANTERN BLAZE

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These creepy pumpkin men beckoned guests to the arched entrance. For some reason, these made me think of T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men.” Maybe it’s literal, or maybe it’s the image I conjure every time I read that poem.
“We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar…”

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and even though this is still very much a “harvest” time of year (at least for a couple more days), the Historic Hudson Valley, New York’s Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze has come to a close for 2015.

What is Blaze? Founded in 2005 (Historic Hudson Valley started truly caching in on its Sleepy Hollow cred just a few years before that–I went to the first or second Horseman’s Hollow event back in 2002), Blaze arranges approximately 5,000 carved jack o’lanterns into dinosaurs, beehives, ghosts, zombies, birds, animals…just about anything you can think of; many of these displays are automated and all are set to a custom score. As my husband pointed out, “They do things with pumpkins I never thought possible.”

According to signs posted on-site, carving what’s called the “art” pumpkins (these are the fake ones you can get at craft stores; I’m assuming some of these are probably used in certain sculptures for safety and structural reasons) starts in early summer. Each week for the run of the event, massive numbers of volunteers scoop pulp and seeds out of approximately 1000 pumpkins so they can be carved and replace the ones that rot. It takes 30 volunteers three hours before the first 5 p.m. entrance time to light all the votive candles (I might volunteer for this because that sounds like an awesome job!). Get more fun Blaze tidbits here.

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Someone arranged these pumpkins in the tree specifically so that it would look like bats were taking to the skies! It reminded me of the bats under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, TX.

This is timed entry, which means visitors purchase tickets in advance for a “tour time,” and it takes about forty-five minutes to wander through Blaze in all its spooky grandeur. The event runs from the first weekend in October until mid-November, and this year, adult tickets for weeknights were $20 and Saturdays were $25 (children 3-17 were less). There is a gift shop (of course!) and a concession stand with quite a large autumnal menu; this year’s selections included chili, pumpkin bread, and apple cider donuts.

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One of several chandeliers in the entrance tent.

This awe-inspiring display must be seen in person to be believed, and it is well worth the ticket price whether you are with someone special, your family, or a group of friends. There are new displays added every year, and there is lots to do within five or six miles of the event whether you’re looking for something Halloween-themed or not; in addition, area hotels/bed and breakfasts offer Blaze packages (this latter thing is what I’m hoping to do next year with Nathan; it’d be great to have an early October weekend away).

For everything you ever wanted to know about Blaze, including a history, frequently asked questions, and how to buy tickets and Richard Christy’s awesome soundtrack, visit here.

For all of the Historic Hudson Valley’s offerings year round (they’ve got fun Christmas stuff coming up, too!), visit here.

If you’d just like to check out Christy’s Blaze soundtrack, it’s available at many outlets including Amazon. All the links for both scores, as well as free samples, can be found here.

Mark your calendars for late summer when tickets will go on sale for the 2016 event! In the meantime, here are some photos and videos to whet your appetite.

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of the New England Horror Writers. Follow her adventures at

Posted on November 24, 2015, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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