What’s your favorite color? Mine is orange, and it is obvious if you know me as my apartment is painted in various shades of it, so it’s no surprise that my favorite holiday of the year is Halloween. Besides Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees running amok terrorizing young nubile campers and coeds, what else is All Hallows’ Eve known for? I’ll tell you what. Pumpkins!
No festive frightful holiday gathering is complete without at least one intricately carved Jack O’Lantern with a candle lighting up the dark. There’s so many ways to carve them that even the least creative person (that would be me) could do so. But if you wanna see some truly creative Jack O’Lanterns lighting up the night then you need to head to The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at the historic 18th Century Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, less than an hour away from Manhattan.
In this elaborate, hugely popular walk-through experience, see more than 7,000 illuminated Jack O’Lanterns, all designed and individually hand-carved on site by a team of artisans. Wander along the Main Street Pumpkin Promenade and stroll across the new Pumpkin Zee Bridge. Gaze in wonder at swimming aquatic creatures and gasp at the sight of a giant Sea Serpent surfacing next to the Croton River. Get mesmerized by a color-changing star show in the plus-sized Pumpkin Planetarium.
Feel the earth shake as you approach Jurassic Park, where a brand-new herd of pint-sized dinosaurs mingles with an enormous T-Rex, brontosaurus, triceratops, and flying pterodactyl. Squeal with excitement as the Circus Train rolls into town, with a cast of colorful clowns and awesome animals. Don’t miss Sleepy Hollow Country’s most iconic inhabitant, the Headless Horseman…yes, all made entirely of Jack O’Lanterns!
Slithering snakes, a working Doomsday Grandfather Clock, elaborate Celtic Knot Carvings, creepy cool cats, and comical, squash-eating Venus pumpkin traps are just some of the other pumpkin treasures you’ll find. Complete with sound effects, elaborate synchronized lighting and an all-original soundtrack by recording artist Richard Christy, it’s a one-of-a-kind spectacle not to be missed during your Halloween season!
– Michael Riegelman
Blaze is handicapped accessible, as there are no stairs to negotiate through the installation. However, there are some narrow and slightly sloped brick paths and it is a walk-through experience along uneven, unpaved, soft-surface terrain. Handicapped parking is available, but your car must display a handicapped placard or plate.
The mission of Historic Hudson Valley is to celebrate the history, architecture, landscape, and culture of the Hudson Valley, advancing its importance and thereby assuring its preservation.
Historic Hudson Valley is a not-for-profit education organization that interprets and promotes historic landmarks of national significance in the Hudson Valley for the benefit and enjoyment of the public.
Directions from NYC (by public transportation):
Metro-North’s Hudson Line trains depart Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan. Take the train to Croton-Harmon station (under an hour from Manhattan) where cabs wait to meet each train. Van Cortlandt Manor is a 5-minute cab ride or 10-minute walk away (The walk is not pedestrian friendly). Check the train schedule online, or call 1-800-METRO-INFO. The Croton-Harmon station is also an Amtrak stop. Check the Amtrak schedule , or call 1-800-USA-RAIL.