Each year, more than 7,000 hand-carved pumpkins illuminate the grounds of a Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., manor as part of a spectacle called "The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze." Attendees from hundreds of miles around gather on dark autumn nights to marvel at the elaborate displays of jack–o'–lanterns carved for the event by local artists.
Two Saturdays ago, Jonathan Ehrlich and girlfriend, Jenna Bonvino, were at the end of a one-hour loop around the impressive exhibition when Bonvino spotted a huge floral cake made entirely out of pumpkins. Prominently displayed was a single pumpkin carved with the phrase, "Jenna Will You Marry Me?"
At first, Bonvino, 28, wasn't sure if the message was for her. But then Ehrlich, 32, dropped to one knee and asked her to marry him. "I was shaking like crazy," she told TODAY.com. "It didn't feel real."
"All I heard was people saying, 'Is that Jenna? Is that Jenna?'" Bonvino recalled. "I kept yelling, "I'm Jenna! I'm Jenna!" and "I said, 'Yes!'"
Ehrlich explained that even though he usually doesn't break down under pressure, this proposal got the better of him, rendering him almost speechless.
"I prepared all these things to say and I don't think I said a quarter of what I wanted to," he told lohud.com. "When the moment finally happened, I don't know what happened to me. I kind of just lost it. I kind of fell apart and lost my cool and was this fumbling idiot. I said some stuff and I'm sure it was great."
Knowing that he and his girlfriend love the fall season, and especially Halloween, Ehrlich arranged with The Blaze coordinators to have a pumpkin carved especially for their proposal. The pumpkin, designed by artist Cheryl Bernstein, features a silhouette of the couple holding hands. The image is based on shadow cast and captured by the couple when they were on a boardwalk in California.
The pumpkin now resides on a dresser in the couple's apartment in Queens, N.Y. "I love looking at it every day," she told TODAY.com. "I look at it just as much as I look at my ring, and it keeps a constant smile on my face."
"As soon as you get engaged, people say, 'Show me the ring, and how did he do it?'" Bonvino continued. "I have such an awesome story. It's really special to us. It was truly perfect."
The proud bride-to-be posted a shot of the proposal pumpkin to her Instagram account with the following caption: "Had the most unbelievable weekend... my best friend asked me to marry him [heart] #engaged #lovehim #bestfriend #pumpkinblaze2015 #SOEXCITED #AGHHHH."
"The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze" takes place at Van Cortlandt Manor, an historic landmark that dates back to the 18th century. Some locals believe the property is haunted, which makes it an even more attractive location for a spooky Halloween extravaganza.
Artists begin their carvings in June in preparation for the big event in October. If you're wondering how the pumpkins can last five months without shriveling into an ugly mess, the answer is: "They don't." The artists work with convincing replicas.
Croton-on-Hudson is about 40 miles north of New York City. Due to popular demand, "The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze" added 16 new time slots to its fall schedule, which runs through November 15.
Images via Facebook/The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze; Jonathan Ehrlich; Jenna Bonvino;