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The Great Jack O' Lantern Blaze Returns to Croton

October 2, 2006

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The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze is a Halloween spectacle integrating thousands of hand-carved pumpkins — everything from your standard Jack O’ Lantern to extremely elaborate abstract designs — lit up throughout the landscape of Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., in various thematic and conceptual arrangements.

Themed areas include a giant aquarium, featuring carvings of fish and other oceanic life, a hillside dotted with 15-foot tall Jack O’ Lantern ““totem poles,”” still forming “pupa” Jacks in cocoons dangling from trees, Celtic knots, a ghostly “outer space” gallery, a circus arena with clown carvings, Dracula coffins, tombstones studded with half Jacks, a skeleton graveyard, a spider web, African masks, and more. Visitors will also hear a spooky aural soundscape of original music and noises as they wander throughout the pumpkins, creating a complete all-senses immersion.

Describing the event as an art installation, Creative Director Michael Natiello, who also coordinates the music, said the true inspiration for Blaze is the landscape of Van Cortland Manor. Various arrangements and placements of pumpkins are meant to complement and draw attention to the site’s architecture, Revolutionary-era history, and landscape.

Natiello is leading a team of Historic Hudson Valley staff, volunteers, and local artists to help carve the pumpkins. Among the groups helping with the carving are Westchester ARC, dozens of Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, Pace University students and faculty, and students from Croton and Ossining High Schools.

Those interested in taking a piece of Blaze home will find The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze Shop stuffed to the gills with oodles of Blaze-related merchandise — more than 100 decorative pumpkin-related gift items including hats, notepads, T-shirts, magnets, caps, glass paperweights, murals, mugs, and books.

Café Blazé will offer culinary treats including soup, veggie chili, muffins, pumpkin cookies, and cider.

A full FAQ about the event appears at www.hudsonvalley.org.

Advance tickets are a must if you’re not a Historic Hudson Valley member. Tickets for Blaze are $13 for adults, $9 for ages 5-17, and free for children under five. Admission (except for members) is by timed ticket only. Buy tickets online at www.hudsonvalley.org, or by calling 914-631-8200 ($2 per ticket surcharge for phone orders).

Van Cortlandt Manor is at 525 South Riverside Avenue, just off Route 9 in Croton-on-Hudson.



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