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Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns returns

Expert carvers and artists will recreate scenes and characters on more than 20,000 jack-o’-lanterns through the month of October.

While some see a pumpkin, the masterminds behind the Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns see a canvas. And there will be plenty of orange canvases on display this weekend at Old Westbury Gardens, as the Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns returns for its sixth year.
A fall favorite, The Rise puts more than 5,000 elaborately carved pumpkins on display each weekend through October. And these aren’t your average gourds; the pumpkins are intricately sliced and cut into the image of movie stars, pop culture figures, animals, motorcycles and more.

While some are traditional jack-o’-lanterns depicting famous characters or logos, others are stacked into multi-pumpkin structures and scenes arranged along the scenic walking trail. It’s all part of fulfilling The Rise’s goal of providing a fall event that audiences of all ages can enjoy.

Each week, more than 75 people carve and arrange the illuminated gourds into beautiful displays.

“Our founder Mike Pollack had an idea for a family-friendly Halloween show. His thought was haunted houses are too scary for small children, but pumpkin patches can be boring for older people,” said Artistic Director Thomas Olton. “We thought, what if there was an event where you could bring everyone, that was spooky but not scary, and legitimately entertaining to children and adults.”

Filling the Gardens with more than 5,000 real pumpkins is no easy task; each week, a small army of more than 75 people carve and arrange the illuminated gourds into beautiful displays. The jack-o’-lanterns are removed every Monday, and over the course of The Rise, more than 20,000 pumpkins will be carved and put on display.

In addition to the jack-o’-lanterns, guests can enjoy a pumpkin patch and live carving demonstrations, where visitors can see the experts at work and even pick up some tips.

“It’s truly a unique experience,” said Olton of The Rise. “Audiences should expect to see something they’ve never seen before. It’s an immersive and magical experience.”

Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns takes over Old Westbury Gardens through Oct. 29. Advance tickets are required. Find out more at www.therise.org.

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In addition to writing for Long Island Weekly, Betsy Abraham is senior managing editor at Anton Media Group and editor of The Westbury Times.

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