The coronavirus pandemic has forced the cancellation of many events, but the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at historic Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson isn’t one of them as it returns for a 16th year and a record number of evenings.
The Blaze kicked off on last Friday, Sept. 18 and runs through Nov. 21. Capacity is reduced by 67 percent, allowing visitors to enjoy their time as safely and socially distanced as possible.
All staff and visitors must wear a mask when on site, and there will be no food and beverage available. Visitors are required to agree to Historic Hudson Valley’s COVID Courtesy Code, which includes wearing a mask and maintaining at least six feet of social distancing.
“It’s going to feel like a private tour,” said Rob Schweitzer, vice president of communications and commerce at Historic Hudson Valley.
Last year, 180,000 visitors enjoyed the more than 7,000 jacks and elaborate pumpkin sculptures hand-carved by a small team of artists that are situated along wooded pathways, orchards and gardens of historic sites. Back again are such Blaze favorites as a giant spider web, mammoth sea serpent, Statue of Liberty and spooky house. New creations include a fire truck making a special rescue and witches casting a spell.
The Blaze is operating in strict compliance with New York State-issued low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment guidelines. It is held rain or shine.
Professional musician, radio personality and Halloween fanatic Richard Christy created the soundtrack to accompany the visit. “Blaze: The Soundtrack Volume I & II” play throughout the event, making it a multisensory experience. The soundtracks are available as digital downloads and stream from iTunes and Amazon. The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze Shop offers a selection of Blaze-specific merchandise.
All admissions are by advance purchase-timed tickets. To further reduce staff and visitor touchpoints, no tickets are sold on site, even if a time slot isn’t sold out. Blaze Hudson Valley dates are Sept. 18 through Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 6-8, 13-15 and 20-21. Online tickets start at $32 for adults and $24 for children ages three to 17. Children two and under get in for free. Historic Hudson Valley members can attend for no charge.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.hudsonvalley.org or by calling 914-366-6900. (There’s a $2 per ticket surcharge for phone orders.) More information about The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze is available at pumpkinblaze.org.
The Blaze founding sponsor is Entergy and its presenting sponsor is Westchester Medical Center. Contributing sponsors are J.P. Morgan Chase and Edge-on-Hudson. Additional support comes from I Love New York and New York State Council on the Arts.
Historic Hudson Valley is Westchester County’s largest cultural organization, educating and entertaining more than 325,000 visitors a year through school programs, tours of five national historic landmarks and Halloween-themed experiences, which have earned a national reputation as among the best in the country.