Four thousand glowing, intricately carved pumpkins deliver a dazzling display, in The Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze spectacular at Croton-on-Hudson's historic Van Cortlandt Manor, on view now through Nov. 6. Scan the Blaze's panorama of jack o' lanterns and you'll see striking scenes and themed vignettes covering the Manor's wooded walkways, orchards and gardens. An undersea aquarium, pirates’ cove, life-sized dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, “Pumpkinhenge,” (inspired by Stonehenge), a giant “cornfield,” an enormous spider web, Celtic knots, a graveyard, even King Kong balancing on a building, are just some of the illuminated pumpkin creations.
An annual event, the Blaze last year attracted 80,000 tri-state area visitors. Led by Creative Director Michael Natiello, a team of staff and local artists conceive, carve and construct the scenes, aided by more than 1,000 volunteers who tackle scooping and lighting the pumpkins. To amp up the drama this year, lighting designer Jay Woods has added some movement, eerie original music and sound effects.
But The Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze isn't the only inspired Halloween hotspot attracting thrill seeking visitors. "Horseman's Hollow," a scream-inducing production at nearby Philipsburg Manor, in Sleepy Hollow, relishes "scaring visitors out of their minds," when its troupe of actors and special effects cook up their frightful, interactive version of Washington Irving's "Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Fair warning: its website cautions, "Creatures, human and otherwise, lurk in the shadows, ready to terrify the unsuspecting while incredible special effects disorient and unsettle. Elaborate costumes and the work of award-winning feature-film makeup artists make it all too real." Not surprisingly, Horseman's Hollow is recommended for ages 12 and up.
A less alarming daytime entertainment rolls out not far away, at Washington Irving's house, Sunnyside, in Tarrytown. There, master storyteller Jonathan Kruk salutes Halloween with his colorful re-telling of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," accompanied by live organ music. With costumed characters and magicians weaving in and out, stop by to kick off your itinerary of Halloween wonders unique to these historic locales in the Hudson Valley. All events are run by the non-profit Historic Hudson Valley and take place rain or shine. Advance reservations are required for events. Tickets are $12-$25. For more information and reservations, visit http://www.hudsonvalley.org/