The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze - Photo by Nicole Pensiero
Nicole Pensiero | CNBNewsnet
HUDSON VALLEY, NY (CNBNewsnet)--It was a co-worker who tipped me off to the "Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze" held each year in the Hudson Valley of New York State. By the time I got around to ordering tickets to what is, indeed, a dazzling experience, all the pre-Halloween ones were sold out, meaning we'd be having a post-Halloween fall getaway. It ended up being perfect, though, as the fall Foliage was in full, fiery display along our two-hour ride from southern New Jersey to New York State and the night of our "Blaze" visit, it was crisp and cool outside.
We spent one night at the upscale, very comfortable Sheraton in Tarrytown; about a 20 minute drive to the grounds of a historic estate where the pumpkin blaze is held for 45 nights each September - November.
True fans of autumn and its seasonal motifs – especially pumpkins – still have time to check out the Great Jack Lantern Blaze, which, this year, runs through Thanksgiving weekend in. Held annually since 2005, the “Blaze,” as it is commonly known, draws tens of thousands of visitors during its 45-night run. After all, where else can you possible see 7,000 carved, illuminated pumpkins depicting everything from the Headless Horseman to various astrological signs?
Held on the grounds of the historic Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, NY, we were advised to arrive about a half-hour before the 9 p.m. time on our tickets. Indeed, this is a popular event, but it's very well-run and never felt overcrowded.
This year’s Blaze – which has participants wander through the amazing, colorful displays at their own pace – features everything from a color-changing “pumpkin planetarium” to a stunning jack o’ lantern Statue of Liberty. There is also an extensive dinosaur section, “sunflowers” carved from pumpkins and a dazzling lightshow.
One special treat is a seemingly endless road lined with illuminated pumpkins where the legendary Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow made his ride. Speaking of which, we made a brief visit to the actual town of Sleepy Hollow, which features a statute honoring the Horseman.
Neighboring Tarrytown, NY, proved more tourist-friendly, exuding charm and a plethora of gift shops and fun restaurants. (We had terrific burgers at Little B's Burger Bar on Main Street). If you're looking for something different to enjoy before the winter holidays take over, this innovative spectacle celebrates both the eerie and fun aspects the fall season. – Nicole Pensiero
The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze concludes this month, with events set for November 7 -11, 15-17, and 23-24. Timed tickets (that run from 6:30 to 10:30, depending on the day) are required for entry and range from $22 for adults on weekdays ($16 for kids 3 and up) to $27 for adults on weekends ($20 for children 3 and up). Onsite parking is free. Visit: https://hudsonvalley.org/events/blaze/.