Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Great Jack O Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor

photo: Historic Hudson Valley
 If you thought the Pumpkin House in yesterday's post had a lot of jack-o-lanterns, today's house tops it, although the pumpkin-to-acreage density is less. Oh, how I would LOVE to visit this place!

 Van Cortlandt Manor, 500 S. Riverside, Croton-on-Hudson, NY, had over 4,000 illuminated pumpkins decorating its expansive grounds this year. Although volunteers from the Girl Scouts and other groups scoop out the pumpkins, only about a dozen carvers hand-carve all of them!

  This 17th-century manor house, listed on the National Register, is home of the Great Jack o' Lantern Blaze, an event that started 5 years ago as a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization called Historic Hudson Valley. The organizers work on a larger scale than most, using both real and faux (Funkin) pumpkins stacked and suspended to create many specifically themed scenes, such an Egyptian pyramid with mummies standing nearby, Stonehenge, an underwater scene with coral, fish and seahorses, a dinosour scene, and a UFO surrounded by aliens!
Beehive with bees

Dinosuar made of pumpkins
Photo: Bryan Haeffele

Photo: Bryan Haeffele


 It takes about an hour to walk through the gardens and orchards and see all the jack-o-lantern installations.  Professional lighting, original music, and sound effects combine to completely immerse the viewer in the spectacle. And just when ya think it couldn't get any better: a local orchard sells hot apple cider and apple cider donuts. Yum!

The Blaze takes place each weekend in October and the first weekend in November. It's open some weekdays right before Halloween as well. Costs are approximately $16 for adults, $12 for kids 5 to 17, free for kids under 5. In 2010, the extravaganza reached its capacity of 70,000 tickets sold. More photos here.

Amazing, is it? Truthfully, I wouldn't mind visiting Van Cortland Manor anytime of year. Here's the Manor in spring. The place is on the side of the Hudson River, so there's also a brick ferry house to explore, as well as the heritage gardens. The stone manor house boasts a fully equipped Colonial kitchen.


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