By Summer Stevens, The Coastland Times
The Elizabethan Gardens on Roanoke Island hosted the Night of 1587 Pumpkins on Saturday from 5-8 p.m. with the ambitious goal of displaying 1587 lit jack-o-lanterns along the main pathways of the garden.
“We were so pleased with the interest – people coming out, wearing costumes, bringing pumpkins,” said Elizabethan Gardens director Theresa Armendarez. “We couldn’t be happier with the response from the community.”
Over 1000 adults and children, plus 19 pups, attended the lively event. There were costume contests with prizes in a variety of categories, plus a scream contest, face painting, a big bonfire with s’mores kits available to buy, and hot cocoa and cider to bring warmth to the chilly evening.
The main focus this year was to offer an opportunity for people to get out and see the gardens at a different time of day. New lighting along the main pathways in the garden, which was purchased with help from the community, made the evening event possible.
After visitors strolled through the gardens, they gathered in the large clearing for the costume contests, with winners—awarded based on applause from the crowd—for best family costume, and best children’s costume broken down into various age groups, and best adult costume. This was followed by a scream contest and a spontaneous dance party to tunes like “The Monster Mash” and “Thriller.”
Children and adults roasted marshmallows for s’mores over the large bonfire. Green and purpled colored lights illuminated the towering oak trees, giving the night a festive feel with just a touch of creepiness, perfect for Halloween weekend.
Volunteers were posted throughout the Garden passing out candy to trick or treaters. With over 300 kids in attendance, the 5000 pieces of candy ran out a little too soon.
More candy is just one of the changes Armendarez might make next year. “We’ll consider people’s feedback,” she said. They might consider raising the price just a little so they can give away the s’mores kits and warm drinks. “We want to make it fun and affordable for everybody,” she added.
Part of the fun was the community investment to make the evening possible. The Gardens offered free pumpkin carving for several days prior to the event, as well as encouraged attendees to bring their own carved pumpkins to display. All told, there were 254 uniquely carved lit jack-o-lanterns. “It was a fun goal,” laughed Armendarez. “If there’s enthusiasm for doing it again, we’ll try again next year to make it to 1587.”