Feel the Pumpkin Power!

The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze

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If you want to be full of Halloween spirit, go take a short trip to the ‘The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze.” Held at Van Cortland Manor in the village of Croton-on-Hudson, it is only a half-hour away from Mercy College by car or train.

At the tri-state area’s biggest Halloween event, one can see more than 7,000 illuminated Jack O’Lantern. Enjoying all of the designed and individually hand-carved pumpkins while walking along the riverside landscape will be many people’s happiest memories of the Halloween.

A Jack O’Lantern is a carved pumpkin lantern which is named after the phenomenon of a strange light flickering over peat bogs. It is a representative icon of Halloween. One of popular folktale associated with the Jack O’Lantern is the from Irish Christianity. The story is about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack”. According to tale, Jack who didn’t want to pay for his drinks convinced Devil to turn himself into a coin and it prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. After that, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit by carving a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that Devil could not come down. Upset by the trick Jack had played on him, the Devil not allowed Jack into heaven or even hell. He put the Jack into a carved out turnip and Jack had to roam the Earth with ever since. Since then, the Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack O’Lantern.”

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Halloween is one of the biggest holidays in America. On Oct. 31, people all over the country enjoy Halloween by going trick-or-treating while dressed in costumes. Trick-or-treating seems to have originated from old customs of offering food to the poor. Originally, Halloween was linked to the Celtic festival of Samhian. On that day, the Celts propitiated their gods to ensure that the people and their livestock survived the winter by offering food, drink or portions of the crops. During the ceremony, it was believed that the souls of the dead would revisit their homes seeking hospitality. They welcomed these wandering souls by changing their clothing and wearing costumes. Wearing a disguise was also believed to protect oneself from the gods. After the 20th century, the traditional disguises were adapted to pumpkins, hollowing them out to act as lanterns and carving them with grotesque faces. According to people who made Jack O’Lantern, the lantern was said to represent the spirits or was used to ward off evil spirits.

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Nowadays, this Halloween festival has assimilated into mainstream society and Halloween has become one of the most popular holidays in America. Once October arrives, people can see Jack O’Lanterns everywhere in front of houses. They complement the feeling of Halloween. At the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, spectators can see a lot of gorgeous Jack O’Lanterns. Wandering along main street Pumpkin Premenade, twinkling Jack O’Lanterns will captivate the tourists. Huge dinosaurs made of pumpkins will be waiting for a pumpkin patch resembling Jurassic Park, and a giant spider web will surprise all when it begins spinning. Elaborate, synchronized lighting and soundtrack make the day even more fun!

Van Cortland Manor features the Ferry house, which was built in 1750. The Van Cortlandts were a well renowned New York City family who were instrumental in the political landscapes before the Revolutionary War.

Some of the other events are Horseman’s Hollows, Irving’s Legend, The Legend Behind the Legend of the Headless Horseman. Come Christmas, be on the lookout for an event of Dicken’s Christmas Carol.

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Because of this amazing festival, tickets were sold out every night! As my first experience of Halloween in America, I was totally fascinated by uniqueness of the Jack O’Lanterns. Each Jack O’Lanterns had a different face, and gathering of group of Jack O’Lanterns created fantastic artifacts. More than that, I could feel the passion and effort of people who made Jack O’Lanterns respecting the long history of Halloween. You can buy a ticket by online. Hurry up and don’t miss “Halloween spirit” with this exciting festival!