Its officially fall in the Hudson Valley, which means there’s endless activities and events to take part in. It’s hard to choose between apple picking, pumpkin picking, leaf peeping and or visiting one of the many haunted house attractions.

In between all of the fall fun, it important to remember the history intertwined in many of these local places. During my sister’s visit, she insisted on going to The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor at Croton-on-Hudson.  She is a big history buff and saw this destination as the perfect opportunity to embrace her inner historian.

Most visitors are unaware that this site is a historic manor by day and one of the largest pumpkin displays around by night!

History behind the Van Cortlandt Manor

Upon arriving, we did our research of the history behind the property of The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor. The grounds consist of the stone manor house and brick ferry house from the 18th century.  It was pretty neat to see all of the original pieces of the site. The old, red sidewalks and the bilco basement doors next to the houses were exhibits of this time period’s architecture. These were built in the late 1600s by Stephanus Van Cortlandt (sounds like royalty).

During the mid-1700’s, his grandson completed renovations that added to the stone and brick house. The property remained in the Van Cortlandt family for about 250 years. Van Cortlandt Manor was a small community in the time leading to the Revolutionary War. Following the war, this site also became an important stop known as a retreat when traveling from New York to Albany.  Hoping to preserve the property, in 1953 John D. Rockefeller Jr. purchased it. During the 1960’s, Van Cortlandt Manor then became registered as a National Historic Landmark.

History behind The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze

The pumpkin display began in 2005. Pumpkin connoisseurs will love the over 7,000 hand carved jack lanterns. My personal favorite displays were the 25 foot Statue of Liberty, the light show in the Pumpkin Planetarium and the zodiac signs.

There is something for everyone to see. Be sure to cross over the Pumpkin Zee Bridge but don’t forget to stop and see the pumpkins all along the path. There may be some PHISH that you know. Walk your way through the greatest pumpkin display around and check out the glowing windmill, the members of the pumpkin train, the sunflower field and the pumpkin carousel.

There’s a lot of work behind this pumpkin display, it all starts in June by a team of staff members, artists and volunteers.  There are over 160,000 visitors expected to visit every year.

The Blaze Shop is filled with pumpkin everything. The store has shirts, sweatpants, soaps, jewelry, food items and etc. There are also gifts for the kids and furry friends. The alcohol line is right next to the shop (yay for parents).

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze is hosted by Historic Hudson Valley. All the proceeds from Blaze go to the HHV, a non-profit organization.  This is a must see destination by day AND night. The tickets are available to purchase online at https://hudsonvalley.org/events/blaze/

Leave a comment below of your thoughts about this unique Hudson Valley destination!