Pumpkins are invading New Jersey this Halloween. But don’t worry, it’s a good thing! Head to the Meadowlands Exposition Center from October 27 through 30 to see 5,000 illuminated and intricately carved pumpkins. Talented artists are hard at work creating fabulous displays to delight visitors. These pumpkin-carving Picassos are all part of New Jersey’s first RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns event.
Imagine multiple carved pumpkins linked together to form a life-size dragon. Or your favorite pop culture characters (think Superman, Chewbacca, Anna and Elsa) all carved into jack o’lanterns? Then, envision all these masterpieces standing along a seasonal walking trail and glowing like Christmas trees. Halloween music sets the tone as you wander from one piece of art to another. It sounds like something out of an autumnal dream. But it’s real.
What to Expect
Live carving stations allow visitors to witness the artists at work as they carve and assemble displays. One of the highlights, besides the multiple jack o’lantern displays, is the group of 100-pound pumpkins with scenes and people carved into them. “Children and adults of all ages will enjoy RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns because of the variety of jack o’lanterns that include favorite sports teams, movie and TV characters, animals and more,” says Tom Olton, resident master carver for RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns nationwide.
RISE is not new to Halloween, but it’s new to New Jersey. Previously, RISE was held only in New York and Los Angeles. This year, the show is debuting in Boston and New Jersey as well. RISE promises that its artists are the only ones at a jack o’lantern event in North America who “come close to carving 5,000 real pumpkins each weekend at each location.” That’s a lot of pumpkins! “Pulling that off on both coasts simultaneously is no walk in the pumpkin patch either,” says Olton.
Truly, the magnificence of RISE lies in the artistry. The public has come to expect artists to use technology to create their works, so seeing them use their hands is unique. RISE uses a mix of local and nationally acclaimed pumpkin sculptors with more than 150 artists on both coasts. A few dozen are from New York’s five boroughs, with many of them hailing from Brooklyn.
The amount of work that goes into each element of the display is mind blowing. The artists prepare for months. It takes more than 50,120 hours of effort by full-time and seasonal workers to bring the whole project together. The first delivery of pumpkins took place September 19 in Peekskill, New York and artists took to carving them the very next day. The carvings on those giant pumpkins take between 10 and 15 hours each. The real pumpkins begin to rot in about a week, so they have to be re-carved every weekend. That means a total of 40,650 fresh pumpkins getting carved in 2016.
RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns will be at the Meadowlands Exposition Center from October 27 through 30 from 10:00 am to 10:30 pm. Tickets are limited and must be purchased in advance.
Admission is $26 per person for adults and $22 for children (3-12 years old). Children under 2 are admitted free.
The event is held indoors, so it will take place rain or shine. The organizers of the event promise it’s well lit and not at all scary, so it’s suitable for children of all ages.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit their website.