My Visit to The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze

Photo; Historic Hudson Valley

Each autumn, over 7,000 hand-carved pumpkins illuminate a swath through Croton-on-Hudson’s historic Dutch-English stone Van Cortlandt Manor, in what’s become an annual pilgrimage for many — The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze.

With new themes, punctuated by updated lighting and soundtracks, Blaze 2021 does not disappoint.

The hand-sculpted gourds are grouped into themes, transporting spectators to worlds a few footsteps away.

The New York City skyline may not seem like a likely choice for a tribute to far-off worlds for Westchester County residents, but in 2021, it’s the place a lot of us have been missing most. With daily commutes and weekend tours upended since March 2020,

Approaching the miniature New York City skyline, constructed purely with pumpkins, gave me all the feels of an iconic place so close, yet so far for the last 18 months. That was exactly the intimate scene I needed to be in front of.

Photo: Historic Hudson Valley

A tribute to the Big Apple’s subways, taxis, and Lady Liberty herself could only be rivaled by vegetable versions of classic fine art that I saw in The Blaze’s Museum of Pumpkin Art.

A maritime tribute to the creatures of the sea made for some nautical fun. Fish, sharks, and crabs accompanied us along the glowing stream and over the “bridge,” suspended by a magnificent aurora of jellyfish. Once through the other side, dinosaurs, sunflowers, and skeletons greeted us. Safe to say, whatever you’re “into,” you’ll likely find a squash tableau honoring it here.

Thanks to what feel like wider pathways than previous years, and a one-way traffic flow, The Blaze’s open-air experience made me comfortable with the efforts taken by Historic Hudson Valley, which operates the annual attraction, to provide proper social-distancing measures. Masks are required for the non-vaccinated (12+).

To top it all off, no fall adventure is complete without hot apple cider and sweets. Pumpkin doughnuts and slices of pumpkin pie, made available by River Journal regular contributor Baked By Susan, is the icing on the proverbial (pumpkin) cake.


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About the Author: Angela Bosco