Brian Cruey and his team at Naumkeag have turned the historic mansion and grounds into an fantastical Halloween-themed garden. See more photos here.
STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — Naumkeag is shining a light during these dark pandemic times wiith a spooktacular pumpkin show.
The historic home and gardens made an extra effort this year to provide a haunting outdoor experience, nearly doubling its jack-o'-lantern count to 1,500.
Brian Cruey, director for the eight Southern Berkshire properties of the Trustees of Reservations, said Naumkeag takes up a majority of his time because of the large acreage of historic land that it offers.
COVID-19 has not affected the show too much, he said, as it has always been an outdoor event. Even though it hasn't changed, it is a quieter experience because of social distancing guidelines.
"We have about 200 people a night instead of 1,500 people a night," Cruey said. "Which is a big change but still we are happy to do it."
There was something for everyone carved into these pumpkins: Disney and Pokemon characters, a ghost Zoom meeting, and even a sobering pumpkin that read "RIP 2020."
The mixture of plastic pumpkins, real pumpkins, and gourds were all carved by Naumkeag staff. They began carving back in August to meet the Oct. 1 deadline. It was clear that each pumpkin was carved with a great deal of skill and thought. A majority of pumpkins and gourds in the show were also grown on site.
Naumkeag has instituted state guidelines for extra safety: requiring masks be worn on the property at all times, enforcing 6-foot social distancing, making the pumpkin trail one way, limiting the number of people admitted to the show per night, and eliminating the shuttle from nearby parking areas.
To accommodate the smaller capacity rules, Naumkeag expanded the Incredible Pumpkin Show schedule to be open Wednesday through Sunday.
With these added protocols, Cruey said he and his team can deliver showgoers an enchanting time in a very safe manor.
"When you get to manage and work in these outdoor places we feel a real responsibility to make them available and open and keep doing these things," he said. "Because it is one of the few things that we can do safely."
Naumkeag has been hosting Halloween events for five years. These events have included the Incredible Pumpkin Show, a haunted house, a live action Clue game, and a "creepy crawly animal show."
The 1884 estate sits on 48 acres, eight of which are the gardens designed by Mabel Choate and landscaper Fletcher Steele. Naumkeag was built by Mabel Choate's father, Joseph Choate, a New York attorney and ambassador to Great Britain, and designed by famed architectural firm McKim, Mead, and White of New York. Mabel Choate bequeathed it to the Trustees of Reservations in 1958.
Naumkeag is also offering fall-themed concessions that can be enjoyed while touring the pumpkin show. At what used to be the Whiskey Shack, Cruey is serving up hot cider, whoopie pies, cider doughnuts, and popcorn. Light-up necklace and head piece are also available for if you're felling festive.
But don't worry about any real spooks at this event. When asked if Naumkeag is haunted, Cruey responded: "All of the ghosts are fake or friendly at the very least."
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