Carving up Halloween Scares: Roger Williams Zoo’s “Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular!”

Anyone who really knows me understands that, interest-wise, I’m driven by two major things; zoos (animals) and genre films (horror, sci-fi, fantasy). I’ve been affiliated with my local Brookfield Zoo for the better part of 13 years and, as it was the zoo I grew up with and inspired my love of animals, consider it a sacred place. These past few years have been like a dream come true as my two worlds have finally begun to merge with regular guest appearances from my beloved horror host, Svengoolie.  These happen each spring for our annual AAZK (American Association of Zoo Keepers) Spaghetti dinner as well as the zoo’s night time Halloween event, “Creatures of the Night.”

The other Terror Dave, David Albaugh, is duel-natured as well and employed at his zoo in Rhode Island – Roger Williams Park. It’s become something of a tradition for him to visit my zoo and attend the Svengoolie dinner each Spring while I see his zoo’s wonderful “Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular” in October. Last year I covered this event, along with Brookfield’s “Creatures of the Night,”on this site (which you can check out HERE) as well as in an article featured in the latest issue of “Scary Monsters Magazine.”

Current issue features 2011 Zoo/Halloween stories!

Each year our zoos offer different activities for their guests to enjoy, so I felt they both warranted a 2012 revisit. I’ll spread the blogs out a bit and try and give those unable to attend these events an idea of what they were like. We’ll start with the New England event….


Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular” is the Roger Williams Park Zoo’s major fundraiser. Once it kicks off in early October, it goes seven days a week through Halloween. David was a volunteer last year but, now as a full-time employee, was required to work extra hours and forbidden to take any time off. This meant my visit had to be carefully scheduled during his weekend and that our usual busy agenda needed to be cut, allowing him much needed rest. We canceled going to “Rock n’ Shock” and, aside from the zoo, literally just relaxed with movies the entire time. Ironically this ended up being great since we both have busy lives and rest and relaxation is something of a luxury.

Last year’s event had an International theme featuring pumpkins highlighting other countries while this year featured a tribute to film & Television.

Wicked Witch of the East doesn’t fair well even outside of Oz

It was a Saturday evening and we grabbed a bite to eat at a local Italian place before heading over to Roger Williams Park. We arrived around 6pm and there was already a line of cars to get in. This is one event that’s crowded even on week days so I’d advise getting there early! David’s friends, Lisa and Mark, showed up and we stood in line awaiting the event. It turned out to be a banner night for his zoo as over 8,000 people were there with us!

Included in the zoo’s 5,000 carved pumpkins were jack o’ lanterns depicting Oscar winning films, kids shows, musicals, action and adventure movies, and….

The night HE got carved…

You gotta LOVE the CRAFTiness of this zoo!

It’s ALIVE at Roger Williams Park!

“Listen to them…the Creatures of the Night!” (oops, wrong zoo event!)

As with every Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular, the tour of terror ends with their famous “Laughing Tree” loaded with carved wonders!

Thanks, Terror David, for another amazing visit to your zoo!

Coming up….more zoo scares at Brookfield’s “Creatures of the Night” with Svengoolie!

Dave Fuentes~


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