The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze Rings in Fall

The intricate Sea Serpent is a crowd favorite installation. Photo by Amy Morse.

The event of the season is finally here bringing lights, Halloween thrills and lots and lots of pumpkins to the tri-state area. This is the thirteenth year of the highly anticipated event that sells out every time. From original soundtracks to locally catered food and the iconic Headless Horseman made entirely of pumpkins, the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze attracts people — celebrities and locals alike — to celebrate Fall.

Starting in June through the run of Blaze, as many as 2,600 volunteers help scoop out and light the 10,000 pumpkins used for the displays. Many creatives have collaborated on this event like recording artist and radio host, Richard Christy, who created two volumes of official soundtracks inspired by the Blaze. Jay Woods, a professional lighting designer is responsible for electrifying the scene with synchronized lighting and a color-changing star show in the pumpkin planetarium. The creative director, Michael Natiello oversees the entire art installation. Inspired by the landscape of Van Cortlandt Manor, Natiello seeks to highlight the sites architecture, history and scenery through the arrangement of the pumpkin art.

Woods explains that he has been collaborating with Historic Hudson Valley since 2007. It takes weeks of planning the event layout, gathering equipment and programming light sequences. While most of his background lies in theatrical and architectural lighting, working with the Blaze allows him the opportunity to design on a grand scale. Most of all, he wants people to realize the amount of thoughtful and creative energy that goes into putting this event together.

“This event couples a tremendous amount of leading-edge lighting technology with something as timeless as a carved Jack O’Lantern,” said Wood. “That combination is really something special.”

This year the Blaze will debut a Pumpkin Statue of Liberty display, a 20-foot Pumpkin Carousel and Pumpkin Planetarium. There will also be a Sea Serpent near the Croton River as well as the Pumpkin Circus Train, a crowd favorite.

A new installation of the Statue of Liberty. Photo by Amy Morse

“It definitely takes a lot of talent to carve these pumpkins,” said visitor Alison Knispel. “I went to the Blaze about six years ago and remembered the spider web and moving grandfather clock. There was also a moving carousel which was really cool.”

Amy Morse, another visitor, commented on how popular the event was. “Traffic was crazy — it was backed up about 20 minutes. Overall it was really fun and busy with people of all different ages.”

The Blaze runs from September 29–30, October 1, 6–11, 12–31, November 1–5, 8–12, 16–18, 24–25. Tickets are available for purchase here.

Like what you read? Give Kelsi Kobata a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.