Iroquois Park prepares for 5th annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Iroquois Park prepares for 5th annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville's Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular has become a fall favorite, attracting tens of thousands of people to Iroquois Park. Here's a look at what has to happen before these pumpkins are ready for your eyes.

For three weeks in October, a pathway is carved through the darkness and pumpkins take on a personality of their own. "The way somebody did the hair, the twinkle in somebody's eyes on the pumpkin, the explosion," says Mathew Sciannameo, Art Director of the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular.

5,000 creations, each more impressive than the next, will fill the 1/4-mile walking trail.

"I have yet to have a favorite pumpkin because they are all just magnificent," Sciannameo said.

Planning for pumpkinville starts a year in advance. The show partners with local farmers to grow the giant, blank canvasses with the grunt work happening now on site.

"This is where all the magic has been going on for five years," says Marty Storch, Deputy Parks and Recreation Director.

Everyone has a spot in the show. This year's theme is the alphabet. "A is for Alice in Wonderland which is a really cool theme set," Storch said.

Local artists research and draw the images that help tell that story. A team of about 30 make the process a reality.

"Five days before the show, it's a carving frenzy because as soon as you start carving into this pumpkin, the clock starts ticking," Sciannameo said.

Rotting, mother nature and outsiders are a concern every year. "The squirrels are always munching on the pumpkins, deer, sometimes the raccoons kind of get up there and are looking for seeds and the worst pests we get are insects, fruit flies."

Every pumpkin has whats call an extra in show business, several of them in this case. "We'll go through about 15,000 pumpkins from the start of the show," Storch said.

The show that began in Massachusetts 30 years ago and then opened a sister show in Louisville has gained quite a following. At least 85,000 people are expected to come through, more than double from when the show began five years ago. "All this from pumpkins."

Proceeds go to Louisville Metro Parks Foundation, benefiting playgrounds and spraygrounds. However, that's not what keeps these artists and crowds coming back. "There is heart and soul in here. What happens out there is there's a sphere of energy. Happiness, you know, there's no rhyme or reason for pumpkins to be out in the woods. Other than to make people happy. This day and age, we need a little bit more happiness out here, we need a little bit more fun."

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular begins October 12 and runs through November 5. Tickets can be purchased online, by phone or at the Iroquois Amphitheater Box Office. For ticket information and hours, click here.

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