For Halloween 2016, Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns booked two locations for one weekend apiece: the Los Angeles Convention Center and the Pomona Fairplex. We attended last week at the Convention Center, where we saw beautifully carved displays of lighted pumpkins with pop-culture artwork based on Star Wars, The Avengers, Batman, Superman, and various cartoons, movies, and even celebrities.
Outside the exhibition hall, there was a common area that hosted pumpkin vendors; you could purchase a pre-carved pumpkin or a plain one and carve on-site. Inside the hall, the Jack O'Lanterns were positioned against the walls, so that guests could follow an easy path past themed displays of cars, superheros, and even an animals. In the middle of the hall were displays of individual pumpkins. These were harder to follow because they were placed in square blocks. Picture eight or nine square displays with one to three pumpkins on each side. Guests had to walk in a circle around each set before moving on to the next square block - this was time-consuming and inefficient.
Why so much attention on the layout? For the past couple years, Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns was housed inside Descanso Gardens, a lovely outdoor venue filled with greenery. Jack O'Lanterns work better outdoors at night - these are lighted pumpkins after all. Descanso Gardens lent the event that magical fall atmosphere of Halloween Time. Though the current displays are still amazingly crafted, seeing them in indoors just didn't have the same effect.
Hopefully, the Pomona Fairgrounds will provide a better setting than the Convention Center. If you have never visited Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns, the event is still worth seeing at least once, even if the venue is not ideal.
Be alerted: this is not a scare attraction. If you are looking to be inspired by professionally carved pumpkins or you are an avid fan of pop-culture and pop-art, then Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns is indeed for you.
Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns will begin its run at the Pomona Fairplex on October 27 and continue through October 30. The address is 1101 W. McKinley Avenue in Pomona, CA 91768. For more info, visit: therise.org.