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 a record attendance of over 107,000 people, some of whom travelled from across the country and even overseas to experience the event. This year's presentation is expected to be just as grand, with all new themes to thrill new and repeat visitors alike.
"We are looking forward to another successful Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular, filled with surprises to delight visitors of all ages," said Ned Handy, President, Citizens Bank, Rhode Island. "Citizens Bank is proud to sponsor this incredible event which offers the community an opportunity to view this creative and entertaining family-friendly exhibit."
A team of professional pumpkin carvers will spend several weeks leading up to the event creating the magical display, which is set on the Zoo's picturesque wetlands trail amidst special lighting and themed music. The theme of this year's show will be "A Journey Around the World." It will include scenes from the Seven Wonders of the World (Taj Mahal, the pyramids and Sphinx, Mayan ruins, the Great Wall of China, and others) as well as representations of nations around the world, including a "European Vacation" and a trip through the Great White North complete with falling "snow"! And of course the famed centerpiece of the display, the "Laughing Tree," will be back in all its spooky splendor. Visitors will be dazzled by hundreds of glowing jack-o-lanterns on the ground and in the branches, from tiny sugar pumpkins to gigantic gourds reaching up to 1600 pounds!
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Selected by the U.S. Library of Congress as a national "local legacy," 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 2010 presentation "awe-inspiring."
The Spectacular was founded by John Reckner, an Oxford, Massachusetts postal carrier. 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 185 jack o' lanterns featured in this first Spectacular 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 of jack o' lantern artists continue to bring the Spectacular to life.
The 2011 Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular runs October 6th through the 31st, with admission from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. rain or shine (trail closes by 11 p.m.). The Spectacular is presented by Citizens Bank with support from the Providence Tourism Council and Cox Communications and in partnership with Cardi's Furniture, Rhode Island Monthly, WPRI Channel 12, Fox Providence, Lite Rock 105, Mix 104.1, Fun 107, Q105, RSVP, Burger King, PrintSource and Monster Mini Golf. The Spectacular is an important fundraiser for Roger Williams Park Zoo; proceeds from the event will support the Zoo's environmental education and conservation efforts both locally and around the globe.
Admission on Monday through Thursday nights is $12 / adults, $10 / seniors (62+) and $9 / children (ages 3 - 12); children under 3 are free. On Friday through Sunday nights admission is $14 / adults, $12 / seniors (62+) and $11 / children (ages 3 - 12). Roger Williams Park Zoo members receive $2 off adult admission and $1 off child admission every night of the week. For an additional price, a harvest barbeque will be available between 5 and 7 pm and will include VIP admission to the trail. Find more details on the website.
Advance individual tickets may be purchased at the Zoo's ticket windows from 9 a.m. - 3:30 pm, and must be used the evening of the same day. Groups of 25 or more may call (401) 467-0150 for advance reservations and group rates.
For more information, visit www.rwpzoo.org or call (401) 785-3510. Roger Williams Park Zoo is conveniently located in Providence, RI at exit 16 off Interstate I-95 north and 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.