Madeline’s school is already closed Monday and Tuesday, Nick’s so far is closed on Monday. Train service suspended. State offices closed.
We are all bracing for the worst, and I’m hoping, after our experience last year with the wrath of Hurricane Irene, that Sandy moves on and we can easily pick up the pieces. In the meantime, it’s a terrible waiting game.
Last year, with Hurricane Irene, our town, and particularly the downtown area, was hit hard. Stores sustained hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, homes were declared unlivable, and the Main Street became a waterway deep enough for row boats and canoes.
This weekend, we watched those same stores tape their windows and pile the sand bags outside their doors. My heart breaks for them as they prepare for what’s coming. But man, does my heart swell when I see the rally cry for help and strangers pitch in, filling sand bags, shoring up breakables, and doing everything they can to help each other.
Ok, onto happy stuff.
While I don’t have weekend pictures for you, I *do* have pictures from our Friday night festivities. We met up with friends to go visit The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze in Hudson Valley, New York. My friend, Cathy, e-mailed me the link to the Blaze several months back. None of us had ever been. I looked at the site super quickly, saw the words Sleepy Hollow and quickly said “we’re in!” I mean, really, do we need to know more than that?
Flash forward to last week. I’m catching up on facebook and noticed that an old classmate from grade school links to this fun event in NY. He’s a bit of a pro when it comes to pumpkin carving, and some of his pumpkins were going to be on display. So I e-mail Cathy and include the link and tell her to clear her calendar.
Well. It turns out it was the same place we already had tickets for.
Um, yeah. So clearly I didn’t look close enough at the web site the first time.
I loaded the kids up and we hit the road right after work on Friday. We really lucked out with traffic, and only hit a little bit as we were going through the uber-cute little towns of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown.
Easy to find, easy and free parking, we were entering the Blaze grounds up in no time flat. There are over 5,000 hand carved pumpkins on the grounds of the Van Cortlandt Manor. As you walk through the estate along a self-guided pathway, there are tons of exhibits that catch your eye. Each display was a different theme … a hive with honey bees, a sunflower patch, London’s Big Ben, zoo animals, a smattering of dinosaurs… all depicted with carved pumpkins. Every year, they add more scenes and more pumpkins.
All the pumpkins are carved by Manor staff, volunteers, artists, and various organizations, and the carving begins in earnest in June! It takes the volunteers over three hours every night to light all the pumpkins during the Blaze. Everything you see in these pictures, and at the Blaze, is all pumpkin. There are no other props or materials used.
It took about an hour to go through all the displays and scenes, which is just about perfect. Long enough to feel like it was worth the drive, and the two-month advance ticket purchase, and short enough that the kids weren’t whining that there was too much walking.