Artful Jack O’Lanterns Like You’ve Never Seen

Some of the creations on display at Rise of of the Jack O'Lanterns at Old Westbury Gardens this month.

Some of the creations on display at Rise of of the Jack O’Lanterns at Old Westbury Gardens this month.

Sunday night I took a walk in Old Westbury Gardens and saw the Corpse Bride, Scooby Doo, the Adams Family, Frankenstein, and some classic art work too, like Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and M.C. Escher’s “The Scream.” And they were all carved or painted on pumpkins.

While that’s not the ordinary scene in these gardens, throughout this month, the show, Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns, will be displaying not only the carvings and art work mentioned above, but in total 5,000 artfully created pumpkins. Mike Pollock, who runs the show, says that 1,000 of the Jack O’Lanterns are real pumpkins and need to be re-carved and replaced weekly; the rest are foam. But as you walk the lit path at dark in the gardens, you won’t be able to tell which is which. And you won’t care, because the results are stunning. For instance, there is a 12-foot tall and 22-feet in diameter Rose Rotunda made completely of pumpkins carved as a rose trellis. There have already been numerous marriage proposals under that structure, four this past weekend alone. Then there’s the 16-foot high pumpkin sculpture. There are themed sections throughout the pathways, like the sports section, an ode to Tim Burton’s movies, and an in memorial display.

I was partial to the numerous optical illusion carvings because I can barely cut an eye into my children’s pumpkins. How can anyone possibly cut perfectly spaced swirls and numerous straight lines? When I asked one of the artists of these fantastic creations, Rachael Kolby, a professional illustrator and designer, she made it sound so easy. Not really. She told me that she tends to do the more elaborate designs, and that while some are carved, others are carefully painted. When you get there, look for some of her specialties: the optical illusions I liked, a Jackson Pollack, the Walking Dead, and Derek Jeter.

The event starts at dusk each night and takes about 45 minutes to an hour. It’s rain or shine. There are snacks and some gift items to buy, and you can also stop by the membership table for Old Westbury Gardens to pay for a membership to enjoy other events there. Parking is run smoothly and the event is well organized.

Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns  is so popular that you must make your reservations as soon as you’re done reading this in order to reserve a time slot. My only caveat is to parents of young children: Because of the dark, you’ll want to keep them in reach at all times so you don’t get separated. But there’s nothing frightening about the show and they will enjoy it as much as you will.

The event is Oct. 11-13, 17-20, 24-27, and Nov. 1-3. Adult tickets start at $18 and children three and older at $16. But if you use the coupon code in the Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns ad in our October issue, you can get tickets at half price. Learn more at http://www.therise.org/

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