By now, you know that I’m a fan of summer. Except for Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter, I’ve never been a huge fan of all things fall, spring or winter. Seasonal change and I are not friends, pollen makes me itch and sneeze and don’t even get me started on the cold. But, somehow, this past weekend in San Diego, there was a way to get a fun bit of autumn while keeping my flip flops on and the histamines at bay so I was game.
My friend, Erin, often told me about The Rise of the Jack O’lanterns in New York. For the past few years, she and her partner have attended regularly. He’s an artist who can turn doors into masterpieces, Halloween into a ghoulish artform and the hedges in the front of the house into a spooktacular monster.
This year, The Rise came to San Diego and since the weather still fit in my category of happy, we hit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for a stroll through pumpkin lined amazement. Guests of all ages in constant awe wound their way through orange lighted walkways. Pumpkin upon pumpkin upon pumpkin found its way into meticulously designed creations on both sides of the path.
From Minions to Minecraft, Spiderman to Spongebob, graveyards to Game of Thrones, dinosaurs to Disney, animals to Angelina and everything in between it was there. Some were painted, some where sculpted and some merged the two mediums. There were no wires to see, no suspension of note, no pulley systems to discuss. Somehow, artists found a way to construct pumpkins as if they were lego bricks and create lifelike designs out of bright orange gourds.
Weaving through the maze of people and prams, we marveled at the artwork, sculptures, construction and creativity detailed in each piece. According to their website, there are ‘over 5,000 hand-carved illuminated jack o’lanterns created by professional artists and sculptors arranged in creative ways along a 1/3-mile scenic walking trail all set to an original music score produced exclusively for The RISE!’ Guests wandered, pointed and awed throughout the entire exhibit. Kids took note of their favourite characters. Lighted pumpkins lit the pathways as spectators bounced from one side of the aisle to the other taking it all in. Between the two of us and our two friends who joined, I imagine we’d each pick a different favourite piece, but all are spectacular in their own way.
I never went when we were in New York. I’m so glad we got to experience this pumpkin themed extravaganza on the west coast for it’s first visit to San Diego. The backdrop of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, was a perfect spot. Set amidst a glitter filled starry sky, the darkness of the over thousand acres of land enhanced the spook-tacular effect. Fall festivals have rarely been something I enjoy. Chilly nights and ground littered with hay that makes me sneeze is not my idea of fun. This one was different. This one merged the magic of art, creativity, talent and pop culture with a warm evening in southern California. This one makes me want to return again next year. This is my kind of October. Whatever type makes you smile…I hope you find it and enjoy. Happy autumn.