Van Cortlandt Manor is the BLAZE to be…

Mix a stunning estate with dramatic architecture and about 5,000 hand cut and lit pumpkins, and you have the fanstastical Halloween treat known as the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. It’s the brightest thing around once the sun goes down along the Hudson River town of Croton on Hudson. The line of cars entering the parking lot, just off of Westchester’s Route 9, moved swiftly and the timed ticket entry provided an organized parade of those going in to the event, and those going out.

Meant for all ages, the event is a delight for kids who can walk along a darkened path and see a variety of pumpkins, some just projecting a scary or silly face, or connected to form an animal, dinosaur, or superhero. There’s even a walking pumpkin, if you can imagine that. Fun for parents who will marvel at the work involved to create such a collection of beautifully carved gourds, and for those in between, it’s a great Halloween event to get you in the “spirit.”

The Van Cortlandts were one of New York’s most prominent families, and their home is a tourist destination during the rest of the year for its beautiful gardens and architecture, and the designers of the Blaze take advantage of the lines and contours of the home and front porch to create a dramatic light show that is worth the price of admission. It’s truly a “wow” kind of experience.

Besides ooogling the pumpkins, there’s coffee and drinks along with snacks under the big tent. There’s also a pumpkin carver creating a carved pumpkin and quite a mess on the floor. (But don’t worry, she’s behind a healthy collection of hay stacks.) There is a pumpkin-themed gift shop for all things orange and Halloweeny including a CD with more than 60 minutes of original music from, about, and inspired by The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze by recording artist, radio personality, and Halloween fanatic Richard Christy.

In just seven years of its existence, the attendance at the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze has grown from 18,000 visitors (in 2005) to last year’s 80,000! But while that figure alone is just as scary as some of the pumpkin faces, the staff does a great job in keeping everyone moving, and those who want to take a photo can step off the line and take as many photos as they want. While strollers are allowed, the gravelly path makes the ones with the smaller wheels a challenge. You may want to bring a small flashlight to be able to keep watch on younger walkers.

Visit the blaze website for a taste of what you can see, and get tips taking night photos, even a printable template for carving your own pumpkin.

The event runs through the second weekend of November with tickets still available for the week of Halloween and thereafter.

About MJ Hanley-Goff (81 Articles)
MJ Hanley-Goff has been contributing to WomanAroundTown since its inception in 2009. She began her career at Newsday and for ten years wrote for the Sunday Real Estate section. A move to the Hudson Valley brought her to the Times Herald-Record where she continued to write for a Sunday Real Estate section, and also joined the writing team at the monthly Orange Magazine. MJ then became editor of Hudson Valley Parent magazine, and contributed articles to Hudson Valley Magazine, AAA’s Car & Travel, and Tri-County Woman. After completing her novel and a self-help book, she created MJWRITES, INC. and conducts writing workshops, and as a self-proclaimed book “whisperer,” works with new writers on their books. Now back on Long Island, she continues to enjoy the opportunity to write for Woman Around Town, and the amazing adventures it offers, including reviewing concerts, events, and tourist attractions in New York, and around the world. “I particularly enjoy drawing attention to the off the beaten path kinds of events and experiences,” she says. “It’s great big world out there, with so many talented and creative artists, doers, and thinkers.”