The Louisville Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular Glows Again!

Over 5,000 grim, grinning gourds await you and your family along this one quarter mile walking trail in Iroquois Park!

I don’t think any other Halloween event in the Louisville area has grown as quickly to become an annual Halloween tradition for thousands of families and Halloween aficionados as The Louisville Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular in Iroquois Park. In only its third consecutive year, the illuminated trail attracts thousands of awe struck patrons from as far as Georgia and Texas like a siren’s song from ancient mythology. The artisans who carve these majestic pumpkins have even caught the attention of Good Morning America, which will air a segment on the phenomenon and its creators next week.

Last night I made the journey into the misty wooded trail to see what subjects and themes were being carved into these magnificent orange gourds this year, first stopping to chat with one of Passion for Pumpkins owners and operators, Paul Cadieux, who was scrambling to keep his prized pieces on display in the unseasonably warm weather.

“Our pumpkins don’t last nearly as long in this weather,” admits Cadieux. “We’ve lost three big ones already tonight. They prefer it much cooler, 50 degrees or less. When it gets up into the 70’s, they rot and collapse much quicker.”

On any given night, there are around 5,000 jack o’ lanterns on display and the Louisville Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular will use at least 15,000 for the whole season, taking older ones out and rotating newer ones in almost every day.

Last year’s semi-educational, almost museum-like theme of “A Walk in Time” has given way this year to a more pop culture based theme centering mostly on entertainment from Hollywood genres like Action, Comedy and Science Fiction to Broadway Musicals. The first big scene is an elaborate “Wizard of Oz” area filled with pumpkins sculpted to represent the movie’s characters in front of an illuminated Emerald City.

My favorite section this year has to be the “Lord of the Rings” scene, complete with a full sized Shire comprised of Hobbit Holes as a backdrop for pumpkins representing Gandalf, Frodo, Gollum and the entire Fellowship of the Ring. I also really enjoyed the “Funhouse” area with its carnival themed pumpkins, gypsy caravan carts and a full sized Ferris wheel complete with riding jack o’ lanterns.

The centerpiece of the Music and Rock and Roll area is a Beatles tribute with jack o’ lanterns representing different Beatles’ songs in an “Octopus’s Garden” complete with sunken galleon and a giant octopus wrapping its tentacles around the pumpkins. Good luck getting Ringo Starr’s popular song out of your head after spending a couple of minutes taking in the serene majesty of this underwater tableau.

As has been the case since the Jack O Lantern Spectacular’s first year, the real show stopper is known as “The Laughing Tree,” a place where the grinning faces climb as high into the trees as the eyes can see, surrounding guests in 360 degrees of giggling, guffawing pumpkins. Ray Bradbury would have wept.

The Louisville Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular is open every night through November 1st, Sundays through Thursdays from dusk until 11 PM and Fridays and Saturdays from dusk until midnight. During weekdays Adults are $12, Seniors 62+ are $10, Children 3-12 are $9 and under 3 are free. On Friday and Saturday, Adults are $15, Seniors 62+ are $13, Children 3-12 are $12. The trail is handicap accessible. Be warned, THIS IS VERY POPULAR ATTRACTION. Traffic just getting into Iroquois Park can be maddening, taking as much as three hours on weekend nights when the weather is nice. It took me an hour to get into the parking lot on Thursday evening. Plan accordingly. We recommend you plan on arriving pre dusk on the weekends.

The Phantom of The Ville

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