Welcome witches and warlocks,

A few weekends ago I had the pleasure of attending The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor in Sleepy Hollow.  For those who know nothing about it, The Blaze (as it is called for short) was started in 2005 and takes place every year on the Van Cortlandt Manor grounds where it draws attention to many different aspects of the site.  Given that the event attracts thousands of people every night (some of them celebrities) I figured I should give it a look while I was in the area to see how well it captures the spirit of Halloween.

To start this off I have to set the stage a bit as we had some complications getting to see The Blaze.  It went like this, the weekend I went to check out Horseman’s Hollow, I had also bought tickets to The Blaze figuring I would be able to kill two birds with one stone.  Regular readers already know that I did get to Horseman’s Hollow that weekend, but sadly our trip to see the Jack O’Lanterns was blocked by lightning related issues.  I drove the three hours back home debating whether or not it was worth trying to return.  After talking with my wife and the friend who had joined us, we decided to make the journey again in the hopes that it would be worth our time.

Allow me to say right up front that, if I had the time, I would happily drive three hours back to see this again.  Really, it is that good and deserving of all the praise it has received over the years as I spent most of the time just blown away by what my eyes beheld.  From the opening arch to the graveyard finale, there were so many beautiful Jack O’Lanterns on display that I could go back again and again to see each unique design.

To say that the designs were unique would be a massive understatement as they ranged from the more classically simple carvings to full on dinosaurs.  More than one of the Jack O’Lanterns had my jaw on the floor as I could not figure out how it was carved without the entire thing collapsing in on itself.  Now, I will admit, some of the pumpkins had similar designs, but this was usually done on purpose to aid in highlighting the tableau.

The various scenes scattered around the grounds range from Celtic knot carvings to a copy of the Tappan Zee Bridge made entirely up of Jack O’Lanterns.  While the various thematic areas may not connect to one another, all of the carvings in one locale share a common thread that unites that section.  To further distinguish one area from another, special lighting or a different soundtrack were added to highlight the pumpkins.

The score and lighting worked in perfect harmony to create some absolutely incredible displays.  Two scenes of particular note are the pumpkin observatory and the manor steps as the illumination within the Jack O’Lanterns would change in sync with the music creating many memorable moments throughout the walk.  That being said, there were areas where one could barely hear the soundtrack which took a bit away from those tableaus, but for the most part the music came through without any issue.

All in all, this is an incredibly worthwhile event that should be sought out by those looking for something that captures the spirit of the season.  People who are already in the Sleepy Hollow area should definitely add this to their list of things to do as it is immensely entertaining and appropriate for all ages.  I would recommend this to everyone as it is a great event for the whole family that really captures the fun feel of Halloween.

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