Pumpkin season in full swing as the US gears up for Halloween
By Jorge Fuentelsaz
Croton on Hudson, USA, Oct 23 (EFE).- Halloween fever is in full swing in the United States, a time of year when carved pumpkins, or jack o’lanterns, adorn storefronts, bars and porches on the run up to October 31.
In the United States, where Halloween spirit runs particularly strong, the pumpkins are joined by a host of traditional decorations from skeletons to spiderwebs and witches to werewolves.
But it is the humble pumpkin that undeniably takes center stage, and beyond lanterns it features in a whole host of seasonal products at this time of year, including spiced pumpkin lattes, pumpkin beer, pumpkin donuts and pumpkin tea.
The origin of the jack o’lantern can be traced back to the Irish legend of Stingy Jack, a drunkard and conman bound to wander the darkness with nothing but a hollowed out turnip for a lantern.
“In the United States we grow pumpkins very well here and pumpkins kind of became part of that tradition,” Rob Schweitzer, vice-president of the historical society behind The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, a Halloween festival that takes place in Croton on Hudson in Westchester County, New York, told Efe.
“We have a lot of Irish immigrants that came to this country, so it became the jack o’lantern but it was not so much a turnip but a pumpkin here in America,” he said.
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze features 7,000 carved pumpkins displayed among the spookily decorated Van Cortlandt Manor, a 17th century colonial house. The festival is now in its 17th year and is getting bigger each season, Schweitzer said.
One of the main visitor attractions is the Planetarium, a tunnel of hundreds of pumpkins carved out like stars that change color in coordination.
Another is the section dedicated to Sleepy Hollow, a village in Westchester county made famous by the author Washington Irving in his short stories about the dreaded Headless Horseman.