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Photos: Thousands Of Elaborate Hand-Carved Jack O'Lanterns Illuminate L.A.

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The Halloween season just wouldn't be the same without a tour through thousands of impressively carved jack o'lanterns

For RISE of the Jack O'Lanterns, an annual fall festival, artists have carved over 5,000 jack o'lanterns at both Descanso Gardens and Santa Anita Park. Way beyond your typical scowling pumpkin, these illuminated gourds are intricately carved and arranged into towering sculptures, resembling everything from human-sized skeletons and wild animals to dinosaurs and dragons. Visitors wander pathways throughout the pumpkin sculptures at both locations, sipping cider and hot chocolate, as an original score of Halloween-inspired music plays. It's tough to get much more Fall than that. And the festival continues at both locations for the next two weekends in the evenings.

LAist was invited to check out RISE over the weekend, and some of the coolest things we saw included a 50-foot-long dragon created with hundreds of pumpkins, and an array of sea creatures, including jelly fish that seemed to float and an enormous tree at Descanso Gardens that glowed with close to 1,000 jack o'lanterns strung from the branches. We saw plenty of familiar faces etched in the pumpkins from Star Wars to Sesame Street to SpongeBob and Jimmy Fallon. And while most of the designs are fun for all ages, there were also plenty of grown-up frights like zombie heads floating in fish tanks à la The Walking Dead, and even some haunting glares from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

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Artists demonstrate the intricate carving process (Photo by Danny Jensen/LAist)
Another cool feature of RISE is that you get a chance to see the artists at work on the jack o'lanterns at carving stations set up for demonstrations. They'll walk you through the process of painting, carving and scraping the pumpkins so that the images seem to radiate from inside when they're lit up. Maybe you'll even get inspired to go big with your jack o'lantern this year.

Tickets for entrance to RISE of the Jack O'Lanterns is timed in 15 minute intervals (though you can stay as long as you want). The tickets can sell out, especially as we get closer towards Halloween, so you might want to order them soon. And if you're looking to avoid the very young crowds and stroller set, reserving later in the evening is probably a good idea.

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Even the classics look better out here (Photo by Char/LAist)
RISE of the Jack O'Lanterns takes place at Descanso Gardens at 1418 Descanso Dr., La Cañada Flintridge, (818) 949-4200; and Santa Anita Park at 285 W. Huntington Dr., Arcadia, (626) 574-7223. Check the website for available times and dates.