PROVIDENCE, R.I.(WPRI) — Artists have been working around the clock to get the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular ready for this week’s season opener.
The nationally known event featuring meticulously carved pumpkins is set to make its annual return to Roger Williams Park Zoo Thursday.
Getting the event ready is no small feat.
The work for the fall fest usually starts in January, first having master carver John Reckner come up with a theme. This year’s theme is “Four Seasons.” Reckner had a whole career but pumpkin-carving was a hobby that he loved.
“It was like a lightbulb went off and I thought I would like to attempt that just with a little bit more elaborate art work,” said Reckner.
The Spectacular requires about 20 artists who carve throughout the four-week festival. Most of them are local artists who tend to come back.
“Over the years we found them or they found us, and we have the same people that have been coming back year after year take two months out of their lives to put this on,” added Reckner.
Carver Dan O’Forand added, “to put in all the hard work and time and then when we open see people come and enjoy it, it’s what it’s all about.”
The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is open rain or shine between October 3 and November 3, according to Roger Williams Park Zoo Director of Marketing and Public Relations Diane Nahabedian.
“I think everybody is excited, we are a little tired, but the excitement overtakes it. Guests love the Jack-O-Lantern, they love this,” said Nahabedian.
Visitors can enjoy a carved pumpkin display along the zoo’s wetlands trail, open every evening between 6 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. with ticket sales ending at 10 p.m.
Tickets for prime nights – which include Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays – are only sold online and require pre-registration. Tickets for these nights are $18 for adults, $15 for children ages 2-12. Children who are one year old or younger are free.
There are also sensory-friendly nights, which take place an hour before the regular show.
Value Nights, which take place Mondays through Thursdays, are sold both online and at zoo admissions. Adult admission is $15 and children ages 2-12 are $12.
Among the festivities, the Soaring Eagle zip ride is making a return this fall. Tickets cost $15 per rider and $13 for current zoo members and can only be purchased at the admissions gate.
Zoo officials say the weekend activities are very popular and recommend, if possible, to attend Monday-Thursday evenings when crowds are typically more manageable and everyone will have more time to see the pumpkin trail.
To order tickets or learn more about the event, visit the zoo’s website.
The zoo says by November, more than 100,000 people will have walked the Jack-O-Lantern path.