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Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze brings tourists to Lower Hudson

Jenna Flanagan

It’s one thing to carve a pumpkin for Halloween, it’s something else entirely to bring to life an entire sea serpent, circus train or resurrect dinosaurs… with pumpkins.

But that’s exactly what the folks at the Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze have been doing for the past 11 years.

The event, put on by Historic Hudson Valley an educational non-profit specializing in - where else - the lower Hudson region, doubles as a fundraiser.

Marketing Director Rob Schweitzer says the Blaze draws people from all over the world, including the greater New York City metropolitan area from the beginning of October to mid-November. Last year, over 110,000 people came to see the pumpkins, strategically arraigned on the ground of the Van Cortlandt Manor in the town of Croton-On-Hudson, a property Historic Hudson Valley manages.

Michael Natiello, the Blaze's creative director, comes up with the overall designs and a small team of artists carve the 7,000 pumpkins that make up the show.

You’ll find very few candles in these pumpkins though. The elaborate nature of several of the Jack O’ Lanterns means they’re illuminated with LED lights and a professional lighting expert has set them all to different timing schedules.

Still not impressed? The Blaze also has it’s own music director who composes music to correlate with each different section and of course the lighting, bringing the carved pumpkins to life.

The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze, not only benefits Historic Hudson Valley, all 10,000 pumpkins (they have to replace some over the month and a half of the display) are locally sourced from Wallkill View Farms, nestled across the Hudson River in New Paltz, NY. 

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Jenna first knew she was destined for a career in journalism after following the weekly reports of the Muppet News Flash as a child. In high school she wrote for her student newspaper and attended a journalism camp at SUNY New Paltz, her Hudson Valley hometown. Jenna then went on to study communications and journalism at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ where she earned her Bachelor of Arts.