Jack-o-lantern Trail

Enjoy an enchanting Halloween experience at McConnell Springs Park featuring hundreds of hand-carved pumpkins as they light up the night. In addition to marveling at the glow of the pumpkins, there will be campfires and s’mores, live owls from Critters in the Classroom and tasty fall food and beverages. Perfect for all ages, this night hike will be a great event for all.

McConnell Springs Park
Wednesday, Oct. 25 | Thursday, Oct. 26 | Friday, Oct. 27 | Saturday, Oct. 28
Open trail (no activities and no cost): Sunday, Oct. 29
Trail times: 6:30 – 10 p.m.
Admission: $6 per person at the gate (children 12 and under free)

Jack-o-lantern Donation

Show your pumpkin carving skills and take the Pumpkin Pledge to help bring this exciting Halloween experience to the community. We would like at least 1,000 carved pumpkins to make it around the half-mile trail at McConnell Springs, but without you, we have no trail! If you donate the carved jack-o-lantern, Parks will take care of lighting them. People can donate a single pumpkin, or groups can plan a special concept pumpkin grouping or sculpture. The sky is the limit for creativity and participation!

Pumpkins need to be carved and dropped off between Sunday, Oct. 22 and  Wednesday, Oct. 25, before 5 p.m. to ensure freshness throughout the event.

What’s in it for you? The Jack-o-lantern Trail has become one of our most popular community events! The participants that have donated a carved pumpkin love visiting the trail and trying to find their creation, in addition to seeing everyone else's handiwork. Also, this is a ticketed event for the general public, but everyone who donates a carved pumpkin will receive a voucher to attend in addition to a special edition Cricket Press poster commemorating the event!

Have questions? Contact us at aluallen@lexingtonky.gov or (859) 288-2925.

Otherwise, pledge your jack-o-lantern and we will send you more information, drop-off instructions and voucher information as we get closer to the event. Thank you in advance for your participation!

Pledge your pumpkin

Donation Drop-off

McConnell Springs (416 Rebmann Lane, Lexington)

  • Sunday, Oct. 22, 1 – 5 p.m.
  • Monday, Oct. 23, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 24, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 25, 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

You may place your jack-o-lantern on the trail yourself, or you can leave it on the porch, and Parks & Recreation staff will place it for you. Parks will provide the lights for the lanterns.

Please remember to pick up your Cricket Press Jack-o-lantern Trail 2023 poster and get the link to sign up for free admission to the trail when you drop off your lantern!

Pumpkin Carving Tips

Once carved, jack-o-lanterns begin to decompose depending on the weather or how they are carved. Below are a few tips to help make the jack-o-lanterns last through the last day of the trail or make your carving experience more enjoyable:

  • If possible, cut the access hole in the bottom of the pumpkin rather than at the top. Leaving the jack-o-lantern whole at the stem can help keep it from rotting as fast by sealing in moisture, and leaving the stem intact makes it easier to carry. Also, there is no need to keep the cutout piece – the pumpkin can be placed directly over the light! If you've already cut the top, no worries.
  • Consider brushing the inside of the pumpkin and the cut areas with vegetable/cooking oil to help seal in moisture and preserve the pumpkin. After the event ends, the pumpkins will be pushed into the woods to compost and forest animals will nibble on the pumpkin remains. For this reason, we ask that you not use chemical-based preservatives that may be harmful to the environment or animals.
  • Bring the pumpkin inside overnight so it is room temperature when you are ready to carve. Cold pumpkin guts are painful on the hands!
  • Try attaching a hand mixer beater to the end of your drill and “beat” the inside of the pumpkin to loosen all of the guts and seeds from the pumpkin walls. Then just turn the pumpkin over and dump out the guts – this hands-free method is a lot faster and cleaner!
  • Side note – don’t throw the remnants away, but place them outside to provide a tasty treat for the wildlife in your yard.


Have questions? Contact us at aluallen@lexingtonky.gov or (859) 288-2925.