Monsters, gremlins, sea creatures, fire trucks, children’s books, dragons, and adorable animals...These are just some of the scenes carved into pumpkins at Long Island’s Old Westbury Gardens. For the past seven years, the historic Westbury mansion’s property has been turned into an after-dark walk-through titled "Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns" with illuminated pumpkins, spooky sound effects, and more. This is a truly creative, fun, marvelous event that is suitable and enjoyable for all ages.

Pumpkins, ciders, and 'Rise'

Over 5,000 hand-carved pumpkins are created and illuminated for the event which is run by “Rise”; an organization dedicated solely to this pumpkin extravaganza. Each year, original music is created and new pumpkin designs are unveiled to the amazement of crowds. Among the most famous are their multi-layered structures that depict characters like broomstick-riding witches and looming scarecrows. This year a gorgeous forty-foot long dragon and a spooky skeleton biker gang were getting scores of attention.

The event also features a cafe that offers ciders, breads of various flavors, and candy. A merchandise tent offered light-up wearables and toys that delighted children. The atmosphere of the family-focused crowd was jovial and the staff was friendly and helpful. The walkway, although dark, was lit via lanterns and the colored lights of the pumpkins, making it easy to navigate even in darkness. The pathway was straightforward and offered many excellent opportunities for photos—the staff only asked that guests refrained from using flash.

Exhibition, gardens, and Halloween

One of the most impressive aspects of the exhibition was a setup towards the back of the gardens that explained, in detail, how the show was planned and executed. For children (and adults) who are interested in improving their carving skills this area is nothing short of inspiring. “Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns” also incorporated projectors into the exhibit, animating certain pumpkins to sing, tell jokes, and engage crowds in a Disney-like way.

Although the event is Halloween-themed and some of the pumpkins feature detailed and grotesque monsters and/or zombies, nothing is overtly gory, there are no jump-scares, and even very small children will be able to appreciate the joys of the evening without fear.

Tickets typically cost around $27 which seems pricey but is worth the fee given the work put into the show, the length of the walk, the many photo opportunities, and the memories to be made at the event. For anyone who loves Halloween and jack o’lanterns, this is an absolutely must-see event.

For more information Google “Old Westbury Gardens” or “Rise of the Jack O’Lantens” and visit the official websites.

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