'Blaze' displays thousands of lit pumpkins

October 11, 2012 2:40:59 PM PDT
There is a spectacular Halloween display in Westchester County that uses thousands of pumpkins to light up the night.

It attracts thousands of visitors.

The display is all about art, creativity, and a love for Halloween.

At the helm of this project is a sculptor who has come face to face with a pumpkin or two.

"I probably started carving as a kid, 5th grade or so," said Michael Natiello, a pumpkin carver.

Since then, Michael Natiello has carved quite a few pumpkins, actually, make that a few thousand.

"It's really no different than working with plastic or marble," Natiello said.

He whittles away the rind to achieve eerily life-like results.

So imagine how amazing the pumpkins look when they're illuminated.

"I like to think of it as a land art installation that has a pop art sensibility and it's popular to the masses," Natiello said.

Indeed! "Blaze" as it's called attracts about 4,000 visitors a night.

They come to see the more than 5,000 that give Van Cortland Manor a warm autumn glow.

"There are 120 here in the cornfield alone," Rob Schweitzer said.

Rob Schweitzer says visitors walk through nine acres to see all the pumpkin installations like dinosaurs, a doomsday clock and a spider just to name a few.

The property once belonged to Joanna and Pierre van Cortland; he was the former Lt. Governor of New York State.

"He was a clever guy and I think he would have enjoyed it," Schweitzer said.

Through the course of "Blaze's" run they go through 100,000 pounds of pumpkins that are grown in New Paltz.

"My team carves about 500 to 1,000 a day and that's each week to replenish the supply on the property," Natiello said.

Each one is carved with care.

"I tend to think each pumpkin already has some sort of face in it," Natiello said, "It's going to be little sinister because it's Halloween, but I'm making a happy face."

That face and all the others make for a great Halloween.

Whatever pumpkins aren't turned into pie are later turned into fertilizer.

For more information and to buy tickets, please visit: http://www.hudsonvalley.org/events/blaze

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