Updated August 4 at 6:04pm

Pumpkin spectacular an annual smash at zoo

By Rebecca Keister
PBN Staff Writer

If there’s going to be an ode to “Gone With the Wind,” in the form of an elaborate, eye-catching artistic display, you’ve got to have the kiss.

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HOSPITALITY & TOURISM

Pumpkin spectacular an annual smash at zoo

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If there’s going to be an ode to “Gone With the Wind,” in the form of an elaborate, eye-catching artistic display, you’ve got to have the kiss.

The dramatic kiss between characters Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler in the classic 1939 film is but one of many iconic movie scenes being carved, painted or etched onto thousands of pumpkins for this year’s Jack O’Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo.

“ ‘Gone With the Wind’ has to have that sort of classic look and [then] there are certain things where artists are given some license to come up with their own things,” said George Nickolotoulos, one of 30 carvers, about 24 of whom are artists responsible for the more intricate designs, working to put on the “All the World’s a Stage” themed show running through Nov. 3 at the zoo in Providence.

Now in its 24th year overall – and eighth year at the zoo – the annual Halloween-centered event is attracting national attention, including a spot on a Travel Channel broadcast and website video, a mention in Martha Stewart Living magazine and a designation from the American Bus Association as one of North America’s best events for 2013.

“The exhibit itself is frankly so unique,” said Jack Mulvena, director, Roger Williams Park Zoo and executive director of the Rhode Island Zoological Society. There really isn’t another event like it in the country tied to Halloween or any other time of year.”

The event, begun by John Reckner, a retired postal worker, in 1988 as a one-night community event in Oxford, Mass., is expected to draw over 100,000 visitors the zoo, where it has lit October nights since 2009 around its wetlands trail and pond.

[The event also was held at the zoo from 2001 through 2004.]

It will feature 5,000 illuminated jack-o-lanterns decorated to depict scenes from famous movies, Broadway hits and television shows.

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