Chicago Botanic Garden's Night of 1,000 Jack-o'-Lanterns increases its run to 10 nights

Chicago Botanic Garden's Night of 1,000 Jack-o'-Lanterns increases its run to 10 nights

  • Night of 1,000 Jack-o'-Lanterns runs Oct. 16-27 at Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. More than 1,000 hand-carved, real pumpkins lit with LED lights will light up the night and line the family-friendly path in a beautiful fall setting.

    Night of 1,000 Jack-o'-Lanterns runs Oct. 16-27 at Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. More than 1,000 hand-carved, real pumpkins lit with LED lights will light up the night and line the family-friendly path in a beautiful fall setting. Courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden

 
By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent
Posted10/9/2019 1:00 AM

Think jack-o'-lanterns are just about scary faces? Think again.

This month's Night of 1,000 Jack-o'-Lanterns at the Chicago Botanic Garden features everything from gargoyles and vintage Halloween images to magicians, sugar skulls and even train images among their unique display.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Night of 1,000 Jack-o'-Lanterns runs Oct. 16-27 at Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. Throughout the festive path, there will be 80 ghoulish pumpkins, some as large as 150 pounds, that are intricately carved with themes such as pollinators, gargoyles, Día de los Muertos, vintage Halloween, trains and "Botanimals" such as snapdragons, dandelions and skunk cabbage.
Night of 1,000 Jack-o'-Lanterns runs Oct. 16-27 at Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. Throughout the festive path, there will be 80 ghoulish pumpkins, some as large as 150 pounds, that are intricately carved with themes such as pollinators, gargoyles, Día de los Muertos, vintage Halloween, trains and "Botanimals" such as snapdragons, dandelions and skunk cabbage. - Courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden

These hand-carved pumpkins will light up the night at the Botanic Garden, and for the first year the event will be featured for 10 nights -- up from five last year.

"We've experienced a high demand for tickets, and it gets pretty crowded," says Jodi Zombolo, associate vice president of visitor events and programs. "It's a combination of things. Everybody loves the fall and Halloween, and it's a chance to see the garden at night. We typically close at sundown."

The unique event features only real pumpkins, in keeping with the Botanic Garden's mission of promoting the conservation of plants and the natural world. Approximately 80 of the 1,000 pumpkins weigh more than 150 pounds and will serve as the centerpiece of different themed sections. More conventional-sized jack-o'-lanterns will surround them.

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Night of 1,000 Jack-o'-Lanterns runs Oct. 16-27 at Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. More than 1,000 hand-carved, real pumpkins lit with LED lights will light up the night.
Night of 1,000 Jack-o'-Lanterns runs Oct. 16-27 at Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. More than 1,000 hand-carved, real pumpkins lit with LED lights will light up the night. - Courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden

Garden officials once again worked with artists from The Rise, a New York-based organization that stages jack-o'-lantern events. Its artists created the larger carved pumpkins back in a warehouse in New York.

The company creates these jack-o'-lanterns for similar events in New York, New Jersey and California, but the Night of 1,000 Jack-o'-Lanterns at the Botanic Garden is the only one in the Midwest.

Artists started by sketching the design on the front of the pumpkin in ink before using scalpels, knives, gouges and power tools to create the 3-D imagery.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"They take hundreds of hours to create before they are shipped to us," Zombolo says.

Each one is LED-lit and displayed along festive, paved pathways that start at the garden's Esplanade. Along the way, visitors may encounter entertaining characters, watch live carving and even visit the model railroad garden, outfitted with jack-o'-lanterns in a distinctive train theme.

Garden officials work with the artists to create the themes for the event. While vintage Halloween imagery, as well as fantasy and magicians, are fairly traditional, they drew on garden exhibits to create the section on pollinators, as well as the 20th anniversary of the model railway garden.

Night of 1,000 Jack-o'-Lanterns runs Oct. 16-27 at Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. Visitors will have the opportunity to watch live carving demonstrations, interact with costumed entertainment and view the ghostly trains in the Model Railroad Garden.
Night of 1,000 Jack-o'-Lanterns runs Oct. 16-27 at Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. Visitors will have the opportunity to watch live carving demonstrations, interact with costumed entertainment and view the ghostly trains in the Model Railroad Garden. - Courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden

The section that features the sugar skulls, or Dia de los Muertos from the Mexican celebration Day of the Dead, was a must, Zombolo adds.

In expanding the event to 10 days, garden officials broke up its run into two stretches of five days each.

"We have to take a break in between because of weather," Zombolo says. "Since these pumpkins are out all day and exposed to the elements, they won't last."

Consequently, garden officials will take them down after the first run and replace them with a fresh batch for the second run.

The event also includes food and drink for purchase, as well as the chance to stroll the garden's grounds. Along the way, visitors will also see some "fun facts" prepared by staff, including this one: "Illinois is the pumpkin capital of the world."

• • •

Night of 1,000 Jack-O-Lanterns

When: 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, Oct. 16-20 and 23-27

Where: Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake-Cook Road, Glencoe

Cost: $16 for adults, $13 for kids 3-12. Members receive $2 off ticket price.

Details: www.chicagobotanic.org or (847) 835-5440

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