Oh My Gourd!

Not to toot my own horn but I’ve always been pretty confident in my pumpkin carving abilities.
I vividly remember a night in October of 1999 when my college housemate and I spread a vinyl tablecloth over the cheap green carpet in the living room of our tiny John Street home in Narragansett so we could carve pumpkins and cheer on the Red Sox as they battled the Yankees for the AL East Division title. Much like my hopes for a 1999 Red Sox World Series appearance were dashed in game five of that year, so too were my delusions of pumpkin carving grandeur dashed (or smashed) this week after a visit to the zoo’s Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular. 
It was simply enchanting: Big ones, little ones, creepy ones, silly ones and some truly masterful works of art – all done with pumpkins, mind you – illuminating the zoo’s Woodlands Trail create a Wonderland of sorts, smack dab in the middle of Providence.
After hearing wait time horror stories and urban legends about lines extending from the zoo’s parking lot to the outskirts of Attleboro, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But, when we went this past Tuesday (reportedly one of their slower nights), we practically walked right in. We pulled into the parking lot around 6:30 p.m. and just over an hour later I was strapping my daughter back into her car seat for the ride home. Considering it takes about thirty minutes or so to walk the trail itself, the wait was essentially no longer than the wait for my morning coffee at Starbucks. On our way out of the zoo, the crowd of people waiting to get in was noticeably larger but still appeared reasonable.
 To help make the wait (should you encounter one) more bearable, there are staff workers/volunteers in costume along the way (the clown with the talking bird who honked his nose made my daughter laugh), there are vendors selling pumpkin flashlights for the kids, pumpkin beer for the grown-ups and popcorn for whole family.
We weren’t brave enough to bring the baby (stroller, bottles and extra diapers, oh my!) but there were plenty of parents there pushing their wee-ones around who seemed to be making out just fine because the trail is so wide. As a bonus, my three-year-old didn’t insist on being carried the whole time because there are plenty of pumpkins placed on the ground where she could see them without the help of an on-the-shoulders boost.
Although the event is great for kids, adults without minis shouldn’t cross this off their to-do lists. Honestly, where else can you go for a moonlit stroll while enjoying some unconventional art to the sounds of dinosaurs and Pink Floyd? Exactly.
If you haven’t experienced the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular yet (and it is truly spectacular), there’s still time. The trail is open nightly (rain or shine) from 6–10 p.m. through Oct. 31. For ticket pricing and details, check out their Website rwpzoo.org/jols.