2018 Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular Opens at Roger Williams Park Zoo

By: Tim Studebaker

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – It’s a spooky 30–year tradition in southern New England.  This year’s Jack–O–Lantern Spectacular kicks off Thursday night at the Roger Williams Park Zoo.

Pumpkin Carver George Nickolopoulos says, “We like to make the show bigger and better every year.”

This year, that means theme nights celebrating things like fairy tales, wizarding, and super heroes.  Nickolopoulos has been part of the show for 14 years, before it was even in Providence.

Nickolopoulos says, “I heard about this incredible display of pumpkins in central Massachusetts – in Oxford in fact.  And my girlfriend at the time and I went out and saw the show, and it was remarkable.”

It was then that Nickolopoulos decided he wanted to become one of the roughly 40 carvers involved in the display.  Each of those carvers is responsible for an incredible number of jack–o–lanterns.

Nickolopoulos says, “On any given night on the trail, you’ll see 5,000 individual pumpkins.  And you have to imagine that each one of those pumpkins is going to decay over time and will need to be replaced.  So, we’ll go through about 25– or 30–thousand pumpkins this year.”

That could mean the artists end up carving the same design over, and over, to keep everything looking fresh.

Nickolopoulos says, “Some of the smaller pumpkins that one might buy at a grocery store to make pie out of could take only a matter of seconds.  Pumpkins that you’ll see on the trail tonight, like the Harry Potter pumpkins, those pumpkins might take 6 to 8 hours to carve.”

The event is a fundraiser for the zoo, attracting more than 100–thousand visitors every year.  It runs through November 4th.

Tickets and information: https://www.rwpzoo.org/jols

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2018