Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular illuminates the night

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My family and I attended the Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular on a Monday evening and we were blown away! This new-to-Louisville Halloween event began a few days ago and is happening now through November 2. It is set up at Iroquois Park and is put on by Louisville Metro Parks.

We began the evening at the start of the spectacular, at the entrance to Iroquois Amphitheater. Dusk was just taking over for the evening when we arrived, and the wooded pathways were just becoming dim and dark. Pumpkins shone at us through the trees, some smiling, some frowning, some grimacing, and some growling. My husband, two kids, and I were immediately drawn into the intricacy of the artwork. It was awe-inspiring to say the least.

My kids are ages 2 and 10, and for both of them there was something to enjoy. We bundled my 2-year-old up in his pajamas so he would be ready for bedtime when we arrived back home. He enjoyed just looking at the pumpkins; I really think he was really taking it all in and was mesmerized by the glowing lights of those 5000 pumpkins sitting throughout the hills of Iroquois Park. My 10-year-old, the ever aspiring artist that she is, really took in the designs on each pumpkin. She picked out several that were her favorites, many of the pumpkins that had animal carvings on them were her top picks. For our UofL family, we all especially enjoyed the Louisville Cardinal pumpkins at the end of the tour. There is a balance with UK carved pumpkins as well.

Our stroll took us about 30-45 minutes to get through the ¼ of a mile walkabout. We were finished with our stroll by 9pm, so we had plenty of time to arrive back home for our daughter to meet her bedtime for school the next day. We really enjoyed this addition to our Halloween family events that we attend, and if it were to come back again next year I can see us attending again. It really got all of us into the Halloween spirit, the crisp, coolness of the evening paired with the dark edges of the tree lined forest of Iroquois Park especially set the mood of the evening. We were just all very impressed by the handicraft of the artists of Passion for Pumpkins, Inc. They have 25 years of experience designing these luminary art galleries along any landscape, and they did a magnificent job of it at Iroquois Park.

During your stroll, you will be taken through an art gallery, mostly themed and the themes change so you likely won’t see the same pumpkin twice. On the evening we ventured out there, the theme was Around the World, and the pumpkins are carved and stationed according to continents and countries. We began in India and Australia, and ventured to Europe with pumpkins matching the heritages of their respective countries, from Greece and Italy, to Germany, England, and France. There is a theme of In Loving Memory Of, of America the Beautiful, and the Kids Corner. My daughter also really enjoyed the pirate-themed pumpkins toward the beginning of the stroll. Our little boy loved seeing familiar characters like Elmo and Mickey Mouse. My fifth grader immediately recognized Martin Luther King, Jr. We also loved the pumpkins soaring above us through the tree limbs; that was a sight to behold. You really will be taken aback by the sheer volume of creativity surrounding you.

I know some folks feel that the price is too high for this event. I think it teeters on the high side, but remember that proceeds are going to benefit Louisville Metro Parks Foundation and Kosair Charities. Tickets are priced as follows: Sunday-Thursday - $12 for adults, $10 for seniors $9 for children ages 3-12. Friday-Saturday tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, and $12 for children ages 3-12. The Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular begins nightly at dusk and is open until midnight during the weekdays and 1am on the weekends. Other items to note: I did see people in wheelchairs and babies in strollers, so it is accessible for those. It is a little bit of a climb, but manageable, at one point so keep that in mind.

Iroquois Park and Amphitheater is located at 1080 Amphitheater Road off of New Cut Road, Louisville, KY 40214. Tickets can be purchased in advance online (but need to be printed) or purchased at the ticket window at the entrance to the amphitheater. Call 502-363-7766 for more information. You can follow Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular on their Facebook page and with the hashtag #502pumpkins on Twitter. The entire event is a collaboration between Louisville Metro Parks and Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Photo courtesy of JackoLantern Spectacular, Facebook

About Erin Nevitt
Longtime Louisvillian, I am a children's librarian at heart and have a passion for children's lit. I am most recently a stay-at-home mom who is always on the move, searching for family fun in Louisville. If it's free, it's preferable!
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