Halloween, the eve of All Saints’ Day, is celebrated in the United States on the night of October 31, but since the arrival of autumn, in New York and the rest of the country, in the midst of a festive atmosphere, orange and almost Christmas .
In cakes, donuts, infusions, even beers, the pumpkin – also known as squash, pipián or ahuyama – overflows everything.
Shop windows, bars, restaurants and house facades are decorated with all possible shapes and sizes of this garden berry, along with an infinite number of ghostly figures, skeletons, cobwebs and monsters of hell in an environment where pumpkin orange is the color that shines the most. Halloween stuff.
The Legend of Miserly Jack
The origins of the Halloween pumpkin can be traced back to an Irish legend about the stingy Jack, who, cast out of heaven for his drunken and crooked nature, and hell, after forcing the same demon not to claim his soul, the rescue in the darkness of the night with the light of a lamp that he made with a large turnip, which he emptied inside.
“But in America we grow pumpkins really well, and pumpkins became part of that tradition, because we had a lot of Irish immigrants come to this country and Jack’s lantern was adopted, but not so much a turnip, but a pumpkin.” explains. to Efe, the Vice President of the Historical Society of “The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze” all the Hudson, Rob Schweitzer.
“The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze” refers to the traditional pumpkin with eyes, mouth and nose carved into the shell and a candle inside which is the main culprit in these dates being orange colored.
And it’s also the name of an “incredible exhibit featuring over 7,000 hand-carved Jack lanterns,” says Schwitzer, before explaining, “This is the seventeenth year we’ve had this event that we started in 2005, and every year it’s bigger”.
During a half-hour walk between light, music and shadows, 1,500 natural pumpkins with various motifs adorn the path, along with constructions and works made with this fruit from the garden and 5,500 artificial pumpkins, with which this vegetable can be shaped into shapes that breaking with the proportions of mother nature.
Here you can find hides carved with the traditional faces, fish, motifs of Celtic origin or tulips, even pumpkins that form a Dutch windmill, the Statue of Liberty or the balloon dog of the artist Jeff Koons, and even pieces that imitate works of art such as a self-portrait by Frida Kahlo, Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” or Edward Hopper’s “Nightawks” painting.
But the places where visitors are most entertained are undoubtedly “the Planetarium”, a vaulted tunnel in which the lighting of hundreds of pumpkins decorated with stars changes color at the same time and, of course, in the spaces dedicated to the legend of Sleepy Hollow, the horseman headless immortalized by Washington Irving, a writer who lived and died in this American region.
“This incredible place is in the great Sleepy Hollow region, so Halloween is seen as a great occasion in this area,” says Schweitzer, pointing out that the natural lanterns are constantly changing as they get worse.
A hit with the public
Some 3,000 people flock to this open-air exhibit each afternoon at sunset, set up on the site of a former mansion in the town of Croton on Hudson, and will remain open until late fall.
Schweitzer says that due to the pandemic, they have reduced the number of visitors per day by 2,000 and that all tickets, which sell for $48, are sold out until November.
Its success prompted the Historical Society to set up a similar exhibit in Long Island County, east of the Big Apple.
“We loved it, it’s amazing, we’ve seen a lot of pieces that you can’t believe are made with pumpkins,” said Nisa Varia, a New Yorker of Pakistani descent, who came with her husband and two sons.
“Total travelaholic. Subtly charming zombie geek. Friend of animals everywhere. Music buff. Explorer. Tv junkie.”