LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE ( — Thousands of  intricately carved pumpkins light the way for guests brave enough to visit an exhibit called “Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns” at Descanso Gardens.

The display, which has come to California for the first time, runs along a one-third-mile walking trail and has left kids and adults wide-eyed.

The hand-carved, hand-painted jack-o’-lanterns range from super-size skeletons and giant dinosaurs to a solar system and celebrity portraits.

“They were amazing,” Maia Ricci of Los Angeles said. “I didn’t know a few guys could carve up this many pumpkins.”

It takes 5,000 jack-o’-lanterns to fill the show, and all are illuminated by LED lights

Camille Greenspan brought her grandsons from Culver City.

“I think it’s really cool,” said Chase Greenspan.

“I think it’s ah … magic,” said Brooks Greenspan.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be too scary or anything  for them, so it seems good,” their grandmother said. “Pumpkin fairyland, that’s what I call it.”

That’s why lead carver Thomas Olton said they branched out, bringing the 3-year-old “Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns” show from New York to California, giving families something in between hayrides and haunted houses.

“We decided that jack-o’-lanterns are the most universal aspect of Halloween, and one of the most revered art forms that come about this time of year,” Olton said.

Dozens of artists started carving two weeks before showtime. But the Southern California heat has meant they’ve had to re-create a few masterpieces, and they’ve used some “tricks” to help the treat going and glowing.

“We’ll apply an antibacterial agent because if  you can treat the jack-o’-lantern ahead of time, it actually won’t break down at all,” Olton said.

Olton offered an inside tip: If you want to preserve jack-o’-lanterns at home, use bleach-based bathroom cleaner inside and out every day.

The show runs through Nov. 2, but tickets must be purchased ahead of time. For more information on the show, visit

Comments (2)

Leave a Reply