by Grace Flaherty
This past Tuesday I had the wonderful opportunity to visit “Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular” and it completely surpassed my expectations. Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is a quarter mile trail through Iroquois Park that has been completely illuminated by pumpkins. These pumpkins aren’t just your average two eyes, triangle nose, crooked-teeth pumpkins either, but true works of art. In total, the quarter-mile trail holds over 5,000 illuminated pumpkins arranged and presented in “themed scenes”.
The first ever Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular was held in Oxford, Massachusetts in 1988 by founders Passion for Pumpkins. Since then, it has grown in popularity, with multiple locations across the United States that host their own rendition of it.
Passion for Pumpkins calls itself a “multimedia production company with 25 years experience in redefining fall by transforming any landscape into an illuminated organic gallery”.
Upon arrival to the park, there are parking attendants that guide you quickly and efficiently to where you need to go. The next step was ticket purchase, which could be done either with cash or credit, and there was even an online option which allowed you to print your ticket and bring it with you. Ticket prices depend on what day you attend, but they are $12 for adults Sunday-Thursday and $15 Friday-Saturday. There is also special pricing for children and seniors on their website http://www.jackolanternlouisville.com/tickets.
After purchasing tickets, you begin moving towards to entrance to the trail, but not before passing the lovely food vendors. They had hotdogs and hamburgers for $4, kettle corn for between $5-8, apple cider and hot chocolate for $2, and beer for $5. I opted for the apple cider and was not disappointed with the taste or temperature, it was perfect to hold and sip while walking through the trail. All food was allowed along the trail, but smoking and flash photography were both strictly prohibited.
I did not have to wait in line to enter the trail, but depending on how busy the night is, there could be anywhere from a 5 to 45 minute wait to enter the trail.
Throughout the maze, event staff workers remind you about the policies, but also share interesting facts and stories.
“They replace the pumpkins every week to keep them from going bad,” one worker remarked.
That is a crazy amount of pumpkins by the end of the month, if you think about it.
She also shared her favorite section, “This was my favorite theme that they have had yet, but I also say that every year.”
The event staff is only one part of the amazing atmosphere throughout the trail. Whether it is from spooky lights or matching background music, the entire walk is an incredible production.
Katie Maurer, current freshmen at the University of Louisville, accompanied me to the event.
“I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the spectacular,” she said. “They don’t have anything like this back in northern Kentucky, so it was a completely new experience for me. I am considering bringing my mom down to see it maybe one weekend.”
Speaking of families, this is not solely a college-aged event. The event welcomes people of all ages. Strollers are allowed into the event, and the terrain of the trail makes it a smooth ride all the way. No section of the trail was too scary and everyone seemed to find their favorite spot. My personal favorite was the Christmas section, but it was a tough choice, because so many of the pumpkins were phenomenally carved.
The event is held rain or shine and is open seven days a week. Gates open at 7 and close at 11 Sunday-Thursday and midnight Friday-Saturday. All proceeds from the event go to support the Louisville Metro Parks foundation, so I highly encourage anyone that is interested in going to Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular, to attend. You will not be disappointed.