Near the banks of Phantom Lake, an eerie nook lies in wait. Along its paths, excellent artistry and lively Halloween scenes thrill visitors. The main chills come from thousands of night time jack o’ lanterns, delightfully haunting wanderers of this ghastly realm. All told, the spectacles allow enchantment, if not a tad of spookiness, to live with guests for days to come. I’m speaking of the Hollow at Phantom Lake near Mukwonago, Wisconsin.
I’d compare the Hollow at Phantom Lake to community holiday season light shows. Simply put, the spectacle at Phantom Lake is a festive holiday setting with Halloween, instead of Christmas, as it’s theme. Headlining this event are over one thousand intricately carved pumpkins, which vibrantly glow on these October nights.
With everything I discovered, combinations of foam pumpkins, real pumpkins, twinkling lights and other well contrived Halloween decor lives in my memory. Needless to say, the atmosphere incites the perfect All Hallowed Eve mystique-without the scares. For fifteen dollars, it’s not outrageously priced. Plus, proceeds provide scholarships for special needs children to the Phantom Lake YMCA Camp.
So on with our fateful night at the Hollow at Phantom Lake….
As we wait for a speeding freight train to cross the road, its procession of boxcars appearing interminable, I fret when I see rain slowly pelting my windshield. We’re nearing the end of our drive to something new, and I have no idea what to expect. I’m sure the rain will ruin any likable emotion this new place would conjure. I pray it’s only a random sprinkle and not the onset of a downpour.
Our tickets to this event were purchased in advance. Heidi has the QR code on her phone, as she had purchased the passes online. When we finally find the place, we’re directed by attendants into an open parking space. The sprinkles are still evident, but don’t appear drenching. With temps in the forties, we make sure we’re dressed for the weather-even if we didn’t bring ponchos.
When we reach the woman taking tickets, we show her our phone and are allowed in. At the start, I’m slightly apprehensive, yet charmed all the same. There is a well conceived arbor, or tunnel, playing the role of entrance. This is a perfect way to set off the experience.
After a pathway, whose edges were accented by delightful Jack o’ lanterns, we come across an open area. Sillohuettes of witches and cats eerily lie in range of a burning campfire. As the smoke tickles my nostrils, my eyes are loving the scenes. I should mention, the rain has subsided and it’s turning into a magical night.
However, this is my only gripe. We had to wait before entering the enchanted forest, credit the pause to social distancing. When we do enter, after talking to a delightful witch who carved many of the pumpkins, we’re blown away. Orange glowing orbs are everywhere, and their carvings entertain. Some lanterns are clustered together to form sculptures.
The area is highlighted with curtains of twinkling lights. The aura is half spooky delight, and half mystical fun. As we twist and turn through the trees, we’re awed at every new scene.
After leaving the woods, the fun continues. My favorite sculpture, a Norseman’s longboat, glows in the open night sky.
I also find a pumpkin patch with a giant jack o’ lantern looming over his smaller brethren.
There is a ton more. I’m actually surprised to see how much is here. After crossing the arches of a pumpkin palace, we discover rudimentary stands selling fun little novelties. Included are lighted cotton candy, hot apple cider and hot cocoa. I donate two dollars towards the cause, even if we did spend thirty on the tickets, and head for our vehicle.
This place was truly memorable. It reeked of fun Halloween themes and elements. Yet, the Hollow at Phantom Lake is geared for people, like myself, whose nerves may not be suitable for jump scares and gore.
I wonder, had Ichabod Crane come across these glowing spectacles, while being pursued by the headless horseman, would he have felt safer? Or would the superstitious school teacher have been shaken from his wits, witnessing the enchanting spirits that haunt this forested Path?
The days remaining for this event are October 16, 17, 18, 23 & 24. It begins at 6:45 and runs until 9:15.
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