The event has won praise from across the nation for its amazing artistry and appeal as a unique family-friendly autumn destination. Last year's Spectacular drew over 103,000 people, some of whom travelled from across the country and even overseas to experience the event. This year's presentation is planned to be just as grand, with a new theme to thrill new and repeat visitors alike. The pumpkin carvers will spend several weeks leading up to the event creating the magical display set on the Zoo's picturesque wetlands trail amidst special lighting and themed music.
"We are looking forward to another successful Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular," said Ned Handy, President, Citizens Bank and RBS Citizens, Rhode Island and Connecticut. "Citizens Bank is proud to sponsor this incredible event, which offers the community an opportunity to view a unique and family-friendly exhibit."
This year's Spectacular, titled "All the World's a Stage," features scenes from iconic and popular movies, Broadway hits and television. Another section pays homage to man's best friend with carved pumpkins featuring an array of dog species. In addition, the night wouldn't be complete without the annual Halloween scene and the kids section filled with childhood favorites.
The grand finale of the evening is the famed centerpiece of the display, the dazzling "Laughing Tree," where hundreds of glowing jack-o-lanterns on the ground and in the branches surround gigantic carved ghoulish gourds (well over 1,000 pounds,) all amid spooky fog and music that's punctuated by a catchy beat and mischievous laughter.
Selected by the U.S. Library of Congress as a national "local legacy," and praised last year on offmanhattan.com as "...one of the most brilliant displays of holiday artistry anywhere in the U.S.," the Spectacular has also been featured by The Today Show, The Early Show, USA Today and CNN, and hailed by the Associated Press as "extraordinary." It was featured on abc.com as one of the "top 11 Spookiest Destinations" in the country and was billed as a "top 100 event" by the American Bus Association. The Boston Globe called the presentation "awe-inspiring."
The Spectacular was founded many years ago by John Reckner, an Oxford, Massachusetts resident who recently retired from his postal carrier career. Inspired by a Vermont farm he had seen lined with glowing jack-o-lanterns, Reckner organized the first Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular in Oxford in 1988. The jack-o-lanterns featured in this first event were carved by local residents and displayed for only one evening on a hillside behind a local school. About 300 spectators attended. Today, Mr. Reckner, his family, and their crew jack-o-lantern artists continue to bring the Spectacular to life.
The 2012 Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular runs rain or shine from October 4th through November 3rd. The event will run from 6 pm to 11 pm with the last admission at 10 pm. Closing will be extended by one hour on Saturdays and on Sunday, October 7th to midnight with the last admission at 11 pm.
The Spectacular is an important fundraiser for Roger Williams Park Zoo as proceeds from the event will support the Zoo's environmental education and conservation efforts both locally and around the globe as well as Zoo improvements. Tickets prices Monday through Thursday are $12 adults, $10 seniors and $9 children ages 3 - 12, with children under three admitted for free. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday prices will be $15 adults, $13 seniors and $12 children ages 3-12, with children under three admitted for free.
Groups of 25 or more may call (401) 467-0150 for advance reservations and group rates. (No individual advance tickets will be sold.) For more information, visit the Zoo's website or call (401) 785-3510.
Roger Williams Park Zoo is conveniently located in Providence, RI exit 16 off Interstate I-95 north, exit 17 off I-95 south, about 1 hour from Boston and 90 minutes from Hartford.
Roger Williams Park Zoo, one of the oldest in the nation, is Rhode Island's number one outdoor family and tourist attraction, and is also a
leader in conservation efforts undertaken by a zoo of its size. The Zoo has received numerous awards for environmental education, and
conservation work done locally and around the world, caring for species that without human intervention would face certain extinction.
Roger Williams Park Zoo is supported and managed by the Rhode Island Zoological Society and is owned by the City of Providence.