Why "Stupid Pumpkins?" Why was the Elliot Family walking around like zombies today? I'll get to that in a minute, but first, you will need the backstory:
Last week was teacher conference week at school and the kids had three half-days in a row. The week before, I was in my car and I heard that there was a Jack-o-lantern Spectacular at the Roger Williams Zoo in Providence, RI with hundreds of carved pumpkins to ooh and ahh over.
I am always looking for ways to fill up the afternoon on half-days and I thought this event would be perfect - a quick trip to another state, a spooky, Halloween-theme, a car picnic on the way ... what could be better?
And then I went on the website and found out that Jack-o-lantern Spectaculars are a night-time kind of thing (and really... duh!), so I shelved the idea for another time.
Days later, Gordy figured out that Henry was scheduled to play a game in Pawtucket, RI on Saturday afternoon. We could all go to the game, go out to eat in Providence and then head over to the zoo for a little Jack-o-lantern-spectacularing!
What could be more perfect?
Everything, apparently. (Stupid pumpkins!)
(above is a photo taken while in line, waiting to see the stupid pumpkins)
We finished dinner at around 7 o'clock and headed over to the Zoo. About a mile from the highway exit, we were shocked to find that traffic had come to a complete stop. We should have turned around at that exact moment and gone home. But we didn't. Instead, we sat in traffic for about 40 minutes, inching along and watching all the people who wanted to avoid getting into the line at the beginning, try to squeeze their way in at the end. Just to let you all know, this kind of selfish driving stunt makes Gordy go POSITIVELY INSANE! He goes even more crazy if you ask him repeatedly how long he thinks the traffic will continue and when he thinks you will get to the zoo. Make a note of it!
When we did finally arrive at the highway exit and made our left-turn through the Zoo's gates, we were even more shocked to see thousands of cars parked on either side of the driveway. Either this Zoo didn't have adequate parking facilities or else there were way more people at this event than we ever imagined.
(The Zoo had perfectly adequate parking facilities.)
After inching down the driveway for 20 minutes, Gordy executed a flawless K-turn and parked the car in the first available parking spot we saw. We jumped out of the car, and raced three blocks down the sidewalk to the zoo entrance. We joined a line next to a sign which read "Pumpkins are 90 minutes from this point," which was worrisome given the hour, but since the line was moving pretty fast, we decided to ignore the sign. It was almost eight o'clock and I figured we'd be back on the road home by 8:45 at the latest. Gordy predicted that there was no way we would be home before midnight.
After about 20 minutes in line, we purchased our tickets and entered the zoo. The sign was incorrect. It did not take us 90 minutes to see the pumpkins from that point. Want to guess who was right about the time we arrived back home?
It wasn't me, that's for sure. Curse-ed pumpkins!
After entering the park, one had to enter ANOTHER line... a line that was no less than twenty people across and one mile long. It snaked, slowwwwwly through the park, past animal habitats, educational exhibits and snack carts. We passed through more than one horrific-smelling area and listened to all three children complain that they were tired and wanted to go home. Gordy and I were also tired and complaining and we also wanted to go home, but by this time we had paid $59 to see those stupid pumpkins and we weren't leaving until we got our money's worth.
We waited in that wretched line for an hour and half.
I kid you not.
What was the problem? First of all, there was no reason that so many people should have been allowed to go into the zoo at the same time. I'm only guessing here, but I would say that including us, there were 1,000,005 people waiting in that line. We were pressed against the people in front of us, and the people behind us were breathing down our necks. Many people had brought strollers, which didn't help the situation at all, and there was very little crowd control, which meant that people cut the line constantly. To waste further time, the zoo set up a photo booth - one that you had to walk through and stop to get your photo taken, thus slowing down the line even more. Needless to say, we decline the photo - we had no interest in spending another $20. Call us crazy. We were so incredibly irritated by the time we got to the pumpkins -- at 10pm, mind you - that had there been an exit path that would have allowed us to skip the display in it's entirety, we might have taken it. However, the build-up had been so great - and the line had been so long - that we felt almost grateful to the zoo when we did finally enter the spectacular.
That feeling of grateful happiness was short-lived. The enormous crowd did not magically disapate once we arrived at the pumpkin-viewing area. The pumpkins were all at child-eye-level, but the thousands of adults standing in front, snapping photos on their i-phones, made pumpkin viewing almost impossible for the children. We had to wait for the crowds to carry us from one side to the other and we were clinging to each other for dear life. Getting separated from the group was a terrifying thought. It was pitch dark and there were no lights except for the LED lights inside the pumpkins.
So were they worth it? Were the pumpkins sufficiently spectacular to justify the unbelievable traffic, finding a spot in a completely filled parking lot, waiting in line for over two hours?
There were definitely impressive works of pumpkin art, don't get me wrong. The Wizard of Oz theme ones were good.
But most of the "hundreds of pumpkins" were of your typical, home-carved variety:
Cut three holes and a mouth.... and call it a night.
The theme for the year was "Movies" and many of the pumpkins were classics like "Gone With The Wind" and "Casablanca," none of which my children have seen or care about. There was a Star Wars area and a Disney movie area, but we were almost too exhausted to really get worked up about those.
I liked the below pug pumpkin (found in an animal area), although I'm not sure why the artist thought that the poor dog's anus should be front and center.
My favorite was the end - for obvious reasons, but also because it was like the grand finale of a fireworks display.
There were tons of jack-o-lanterns piled on stands near strings of jack-o-lantern lights, which made for a spooky and kitsch display.
We managed a few oohs and ahhs and then promptly left the zoo.
We got home at 12:10am and today, when asked by people at her soccer game why she looked so tired, Georgia said two words: "stupid pumpkins!"