1 Here I was with visual artist, Michael Natiello, in front of the "Covered Bridge". As creative director of the Historic Hudson Valley's Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze, Michael created the patterns for the carvings, designed the installations, and oversaw the layout and set-up of the exhibit.
3 Carved pumpkins, both live and artificial Funkins, were everywhere. Among them, a small field of scarecrow pumpkins just across from the historic Van Cortlandt Manor.
4 Jack o'lanterns lined the pathways and hung from above. The pumpkins on the tree branches were reinforced Funkins hooked up with wire and lights. Funkins are made of patented low-density polyurethane foam.
5 In the foreground, pumpkin bees swarmed around a "Buzzing Beehive" next to a corn field with pumpkin corn stalks and pumpkin sunflowers.
6 This area was adjacent to a fenced in kitchen area for the facility, so the pumpkins here were inspired by foods. These were pumpkin mushrooms.
7 In front of the Van Cortlandt Manor were several giant slithering jack o'lantern snakes serpentining across the lawn.
8 Dancing pumpkin skeletons next to the pumpkin scarecrows. The small team behind all the whimsical installations was comprised of 20-carvers, carpenters, designers and painters who worked under Michael's direction to hand-carve every single pumpkin - every single one. There were also many volunteers who helped hollow out the pumpkins and prepare them for the show.
9 The number of pumpkins used for the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze has increased every year. In the first year, about 2500-pumpkins were included in the exhibit. Today, more than 7000-pumpkins and Funkins are used.
10 Here were some fun pumpkin headstones. And, not all the pumpkins survive the entire run of Blaze - about one thousand to 1500-carved pumpkins are replaced each week.
12 A line of carved pumpkins decorated the famous Van Cortlandt Manor House. Michael draws a lot of his inspiration from the Manor House - its architectural beauty and its rich Revolutionary War-era history.
13 These pumpkins were painted in shades of orange yellow and pink with fun faces and expressions - pumpkin "emoticons".
15 This was a painted white snake.
16 In the pathway after the Manor House, pumpkin totem polls helped define the transition from one area to another. These stacked pumpkins led the way to the pumpkin dinosaurs - a very popular spot for visitors.
17 And here they were - in the area called "Jurassic Park" - lots of prehistoric animal figures illuminated the grassy field.
18 Here was a frontal view of the "Jurassic Park" installation.
19 An enormous Brachiosaurus towered over "Jurassic Park".
20 Michael walked my granddaughter, Jude, over to the giant spider web.
22 The ghosts were made with carved Funkins, illuminated under the white fabric.
23 Jude was very fond of the "Witches Coven" area. Here she was inspecting the pumpkins in the cauldron.
24 Nearby was the "Pumpkin Infinity Path". In the dark, this pumpkin lined path gave the illusion that it went on forever. It is an installation Michael loves to create year after year because of its huge popularity with the visitors.
25 Jude and Truman were amazed. Although this path was better seen at night, the lights rotated in and out. It was a magical effect.
26 This was a pumpkin grandfather clock. Funkins were used to build it. The pendulum and the hands of the clock moved just like an actual one.
27 Back to the "Covered Bridge", but not just any covered bridge...
28 ... A "Pumpkin Planetarium" covered bridge.
New this year, the stars on the ceiling inside the bridge flashed actual constellations. The children loved it.
29 Carved Funkins created the illuminated siding of the bridge's exterior.
30 Here was a view looking up at the stars - carved, of course, into the pumpkins and Funkins.
31 White stars lit up at various times.
32 The Historic Hudson Valley provided informational signs all around the venue, so visitors could learn about life in the late 1700s and early 1800s, the rich history of the Manor House, and its landscape.
33 A menagerie including a giraffe, a gorilla, and a bear - circus animals that were most common in the 18th century.
34 This was a giant sea serpent which surfaced near the undersea aquarium. Look just behind the serpent's neck and you could see the Croton River.
35 Here was the "Circus Train" installation featuring a cast of whimsical animals and clowns. Circus animals could be seen in each of the cars.
36 What do you think this animal is?
37 Driving the pumpkin circus train was the pumpkin skeleton.
38 A gourd-filled Jack in the Box - it worked just like a toy Jack in the Box - first some music, and then out popped the pumpkin jack o'lantern.
40 These were pumpkins inspired by the ceramics in the Van Cortlandt collections.
41 As night began to fall, the pumpkins' lights were easier to see. This was a pumpkin cake.
42 Every Halloween show must have monsters - these little monsters were inspired by classic favorites, such as Frankenstein and the Bride of Frankenstein. The bodies were only three-feet tall. The heads were made of live pumpkins intricately carved out by Michael to show the various figures. This was the mummy.