I first saw the add for the Roger Williams Park Zoo’s Jack O’Lantern Spectacular in Motif Magazine’s Halloween issue. I was looking up activities for high schoolers (as part of my job), and when I did a Google search to find out more details, I found THE COOLEST PICTURES EVER IN THE WORLD. I’ve always had a weird fascination with pumpkin carving, likely because I didn’t do it as a kid and I still think I’d be good at it, but this blew my mind. These were more than the standard pumpkin with a half-toothed grin and triangle eyes. These were masterpieces. Imagine Harry Potter flying on a wand playing quidditch…on a pumpkin. Wha…??? How???
This was exactly the sort of thing I had to see. Rhode Island is my new home and I have determined that I must DO ALL THE THINGS.
My friend Kristi was planning to visit Rhode Island from Hawaii, and I inundated her Facebook newsfeed with images of pumpkins and sent her an itinerary with the Jack O’Lantern display starred and highlighted. (She didn’t require much convincing, though. She’s an amazing artist who paints glassware and she was on board.) Kristi arrived the weekend before Halloween, and that seemed like the perfect time to go.
Evidently, everyone else thought so, too.
On the Saturday night when we scheduled ourselves to see the display, we arrived at 7pm and found a line switchbacking through the parking lot in a truly Six Flags fashion. The woman near us said she heard it was a two-hour line, and while I was motivated enough to stand there and wait, we also had plans to see Waterfire in downtown (another Rhode Island staple, which only occurs on select Saturdays throughout the summer and fall). “We will go tomorrow!” we said, “and we will arrive early! We’ll call ahead! We will MAKE IT WORK!” and then we went to Waterfire.
(Totally worth it, by the way. We discovered Ron’s Pastries and bought a giant coconut-covered chocolate cake ball that we devoured at midnight.)
We mentally prepared for pumpkins. We told our friend whom we brunched with THERE WILL BE PUMPKINS. (His remark: “It’s awesome. You have to go.”) We called ahead and asked if we should purchase tickets in advance. They recommended we arrive at dusk (then: 5:30) because they weren’t expecting quite the craziness of the night before. We arrived promptly at 5:30. And then…
Kristi fell ill.
Actually, she’d been feeling jittery all afternoon, but it culminated into a “Let’s go to the ER” concern right when we arrived at the zoo. (Short story: she was okay—nothing to report! The long story: we missed the pumpkins and she had to wear a facemask like an Ebola patient.)
We were devastated.
The good news for me and the less good news for Kristi was that the display continued to run until November 2nd, so after I taught at the gym on Tuesday, I made plans with friends to see the pumpkins. Granted, one friend thought we’d said Thursday and not Tuesday, so he couldn’t make it (WAY TO GO, STEVE), and another friend completely spaced it (HIGH FIVE, CORY), so it was just me and Brad, who is also known as Gaston because he eats four dozen eggs a day*.
*actually, the resemblance has more to do with this:
Brad should get a ribbon for his patience for walkin around the entire zoo with me—not because spending that much time with me is enough to earn a ribbon (though that’s true) but because I took a picture of EVERY ONRATELY-CARVED PUMPKIN until I got to Tom Brady.** I even took pictures of the “normal” pumpkins because
1) they were cute
2) they deserved recognition
3) I didn’t want to hurt their feelings***
**my hatred runs deep
***”their” meaning the pumpkins, not the people who carved them, despite what I told Brad.
I walked away that evening with 125 pictures, and I don’t know what could be better than posting them all for your enjoyment. Please check them out to understand why I think Rhode Island is the coolest state.
BEST MOMENT: not pumpkin related
At the end of the road, when Brad and I were waiting to see our “professionally” taken photograph, I saw someone I thought I knew, but since I’d only met her once while she was dressed as Maleficent, it was hard to be sure. I asked Brad if he could just yell “Holly!” so I could see if she responded.
Standing approximately five feet away from her, he shouted “HOLLLLLLYYYY!” as loudly as he could, startling everyone around us into silence. He thought he was yelling for someone who was a football field away from us; perhaps I should have been more specific. Right before everyone stopped what they were doing and stared, Holly did look up, and I proceeded to walk over and say hi, much to the embarrassment of Brad who realized how close she was.
Thanks again, man!
Anyway, here you go. The long awaited, much anticipated pumpkins. Enjoy.
Okay. I’ll show you the “real” pumpkins now.
Here we go.
And that is the end.
I actually didn’t post ALL the pictures I took. It seemed like overkill. But the Jack O’Lantern Spectacular is definitely worth seeing! If you don’t want to take my word for it, take the ghost of me and Brad’s word for it: