More than 5,000 pumpkins get lit for the sixth annual Jack O’Lantern Spectacular

They’re always watching. | Photo by Sara Havens

Once again, Halloween comes early at Iroquois Park as more than 5,000 pumpkins will be carved and lit by local and regional artists for the sixth annual Jack O’Lantern Spectacular, which officially opens Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Essentially an art exhibit that can be viewed every night through Nov. 4, the event takes over a quarter-of-a-mile walking trail in Iroquois Park and features pumpkins hand-carved into various themes — from local celebrities like Muhammad Ali to scenes from “The Wizard of Oz.”

The idea for the Jack O’Lantern Spectacular started in Oxford, Mass., in 1988, and it slowly made its way to Louisville in 2013 — you know, that Kentucky being 20 years behind quip from Mark Twain and all.

“What we always wanted to do was flood or bombard the senses,” said producer and founder Travis Reckner in a 2015 video about the event. “The woods has a life-force of its own — walking through the woods at night is an amazing experience, never mind with thousands of pumpkins and music out there. When you come here, not only are you going to see amazing artistry and beautiful pumpkins glowing, but there’s going to be thousands of them — all the way back into the woods where you can’t see anymore, 80 feet up in trees.”

There’s gotta be bourbon! | Photo by Sara Havens

Each year, there’s a new theme, and 2018’s is “A Night at the Library,” which pays homage to the Smithsonian’s 50th anniversary.

You can expect pumpkin-carved vignettes highlighting imagery from literature, pop culture, history, arts and cinema — and we’re guessing some bourbon-inspired ones will be included as well.

The gates open at 6 p.m. each night from Oct. 9-Nov. 4, and the actual trail opens at dusk, which has been around 7:30 p.m. The trail closes at 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and midnight on Friday and Saturday. Food and drinks are available as well, and all proceeds go to the Louisville Parks Foundation.

Admission on Sundays through Thursdays is $13 for adults, $11 for seniors and $10 for children ages 3 to 12; and admission on Friday and Saturday nights is $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and $14 for children.

There’s a special Pre-Lit Bash on Tuesday, Oct. 9, starting at 6 p.m., where attendees get the first go at the trail, as well as an open bar and appetizers. Tickets to that are $50.