What To Do: Longwood’s Chrysanthemum Festival

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Also: Pumpkins are carved and a plethora of Halloween fun and scares

By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times


Longwood Gardens’ annual Chrysanthemum Festival opens this weekend.

As soon as the temperatures begin to drop, the only plants that really hang on and continue to have flowers are hardy pansies, which can bloom all winter long, and chrysanthemums, which are primarily autumn flowers.

Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) celebrates the popular autumnal flower with its annual Chrysanthemum Festival every year I n October and November.

The 34th Annual Mum Fest, which opens on October 24 and runs through November 22, is a top-flight exhibit featuring more than 20,000 colorful, blooming chrysanthemums in Longwood’s huge conservatory.

Longwood’s horticulturalists have grown and developed the mums into a variety of unusual forms. They have groomed chrysanthemums to resemble clouds, torches, spirals, fans, 13-foot arches and more. The stars of the show are Longwood Gardens’ “Thousand Bloom” mums.

The Thousand Bloom (known in Japan as Ozukuri) is the most exacting and difficult of all the Chrysanthemum training styles. It derives its name for the ambitious goal of a single chrysanthemum plant producing 1,000 perfect blooms.

The method for growing the Thousand Bloom originated in China and Japan more than 200 years ago. It is a dying art form with only a few growers in the entire world skilled in the techniques needed to grow this special plant.

This year, Longwood has the largest chrysanthemum outside of Asia on display. Grown at Longwood, the plant is expected to produce over 1,500 perfectly placed, uniform blooms on one plant.

Video link for Chrysanthemum Festival — https://youtu.be/sWTA32DdDlU?list=UUHMP1vVm6vrp4PVDb7fZ_Jw.

Admission to Longwood Gardens is $20 for adults, $17 for seniors (62+) and $10 for students (ages 5-18).

There are all types of carvers — most notably woodcarvers. But, there are also carvers who work with such diverse elements as fruit, ivory, soap and even ice. There also is a group of specialist carvers who display their skills every October at the Chadds Ford Historical Society (Route 100, Chadds Ford, 610-388-7376, www.chaddsfordhistory.org). These artists prefer to use giant squash as their medium.

pumpkin carve

No pumpkin is safe at the annual Chadds Ford Historical Society Pumpkin Carve, now underway.

Each year at the end of October, the Chadds Ford Historical Society presents its annual Great Pumpkin Carve. The event brings together approximately 70 carvers who sculpt, saw and chisel giant pumpkins to the delight of the gathered onlookers.

The three-day event, which has been a Brandywine Valley tradition for more than 40 years, is held in the meadow behind the Chadds Ford Historical Society from October 22-24. In recent years, the popular event has attracted more than 15,000 visitors annually.

Co-sponsored by the Chadds Ford Historical Society and the Concordville Chadds Ford Rotary, the Great Pumpkin Carve is a treasured Chadds Ford tradition that began in the early 1970’s when Jimmy Lynch convinced the renowned artists Andrew and Jamie Wyeth to carve pumpkins for decorating the inside of the Chadds Ford Inn (now the Brandywine Prime Restaurant in Chadds Ford). 

On October 22, carvers gathered in the evening in the field behind the barn to create masterpieces by carving huge pumpkins which can weigh between 150 and 400 pounds.

After dark, the pumpkins will be lit and prizes will be awarded. On October 23 and 24, the carved pumpkins will be displayed all evening. Live entertainment, hayrides and hot food will also be featured all three nights. Admission is $10 for adults (18 and older) and $5 for youth (ages 7-17).


The Brandywine Ballet and the Brandywine Singers will team up to present four performances of “Carmina Burana” along with the premiere of “Swan Lake Act II” at West Chester University’s Emilie K. Asplundh Hall this weekend.

On October 23, 24 and 25, the Brandywine Ballet and the Brandywine Singers will team up to present four performances of “Carmina Burana” along with the premiere of “Swan Lake Act II” at West Chester University’s Emilie K. Asplundh Hall (700 South High Street, West Chester, 610-696-2711, www.brandywineballet.org).

In “Carmina Burana,” resident choreographer Nancy Page has set her ballet to the inspirational music of Carl Orff, portraying the medieval collection of poems and texts about life, fortune and fate. The Brandywine Singers and their percussion orchestra under the direction of Jonathan Kreamer will bring the epic score to life.

The other half of the program will feature Philadelphia-based choreographer Meredith Rainey’s “Swan Lake Act II.” Tchaikovsky’s score is full of melancholy and longing.

These emotions are exhibited by the dancing of Odette, a young maiden cursed by the evil spell of von Rothbart to be a swan by day and maiden by night, and of Prince Siegfried, who falls in love with her and hopes to break the spell.

Page was a Brandywine Ballet student prior to her professional career with such companies as the Sarasota Ballet, the Pittsburgh Ballet and the Tampa/Colorado Ballet. Rainey recently retired as a dancer after a long career with the Pennsylvania Ballet.

Shows are scheduled for October 23 at 10 a.m., October 24 at 2 and 7 p.m. and October 25 at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $25-$40.

On October 24, the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation (Ridley Creek State Park, Media, 610-566-1725, www.colonialplantation.org) is presenting an evening of “Lantern Ghost Tours.”

The Colonial Plantation, one of the most haunted properties in Delaware County, invites guests to participate in an evening of strange sounds, squeaky doors, and ghostly stories. They will be able to relive some of the area’s most mysterious, true and scary tales of terror.

Guests’ journey starts by following the torch-lit path and then taking a tour of the farmhouse where a story in each room will tell of bizarre events from times long past and people long dead. The tour finishes at the bonfire for a last bone-chilling tale of ghosts and mayhem.

Tickets are $10 for adults and children (10 and over) and the tour is not recommended for young children. Pre-registration is required by calling the office at 610-566-1725. Tours leave for the house at 6, 6:30, 7, 7:30, 8, 8:30 and 9 p.m. Participants are instructed to bring a flashlight and wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes.

plein air

Plein Air Brandywine Valley highlights both the natural beauty of the region as well as the best work of local artists and photographers.

Plein Air Brandywine Valley (www.pleinairbrandywinevalley.org) is a painting and photography competition, show and sale featuring the beauty of the Brandywine Valley interpreted by a number of highly-acclaimed artists. It is free and open to the public.

From October 19-22, artists painted and photographed the most scenic properties of the Brandywine Valley including private estates, land preserves, and renowned du Pont properties.

All works entered into the competition will be judged and then displayed for viewing and purchase at an opening gala scheduled for October 23 from 7-10 p.m. at the Visitor Center of Winterthur Museum and Garden (Route 52, Wilmington, Delaware).

The works will remain on display for purchase and viewing on October 24 and 25 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. each day. A portion of the proceeds from the art sales will benefit Children’s Beach House.

The Strasburg Railroad (Route 741, Strasburg, 717-687-7522, www.strasburgrailroad.com) is presenting a special event on October 24 — “The Great Train Robbery.”

Billed as “A Bonnie & Clyde Adventure,” the event allows guests to travel back in time to 1934 for an adventurous 45-minute ride on the rails through scenic Amish Country.  An A-list celebrity is planning to travel in style at the railroad complete with high fashion, sparkling jewels and bountiful riches.  However, there have been alleged sightings of dynamic duo, Bonnie and Clyde, whose exploits have captured the attention of the American public.

This interactive ride will rob you poor. But, all real money “donated” to the train’s robbers will go to the Clinic for Special Children.

Boarding time for the train is 3:45 p.m. and departure is set to take place at 4 p.m. First Class Lounge Car and First Class Parlour Car tickets are $27. Dining Car tickets are $20 for adults and $13.50 for children (ages 3-11). Coach Car tickets are $18 for adults and $11.50 for children.


Philadelphia Comic Con is Sunday in Essington.

On October 25, it’s time for another edition of Philadelphia Comic-Con. The popular event will run from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on June 1 at the Clarion Hotel Conference Center (76 Industrial Highway, Essington, 856-217-5737, www.philadelphiacomic-con.com).

The well-attended show features comic books, trading cards and other collectibles — vintage and current. It also hosts a number of special autograph guests.

Guests for Sunday’s event will be Greg Laroucque (Artist — “Flash” and EXILED STUDIOS), Ken Hunt (artist — DC Comics, About Time Comics, AC Comics, and more), and Bob Petrecca (artist — Marvel Comics, DC Comics).

The diverse collectibles event, which is the area’s longest running comic convention, has a large number of vendors selling for comic books, non-sport trading cards, Manga items and gaming cards.

The show will host dealers from all over the Northeast who will have sales booths featuring Gold & Silver Age comics, Japanese Manga, gaming cards such as Yuh-Gi-Oh and Magic the Gathering, action figures, non-sport cards, original artwork and all the latest issues of today’s popular comic book series.

As an added attraction, there will be hourly door prizes beginning at 11 a.m. with $100 in show cash to be given away. Show admission is $3.

The festive El Dia de los Muertos is just over one week away and that means the spirits are starting to come alive. They know that their favorite holidays — Halloween and All Saints’ Day (also known as All Hallows Day) — are coming soon.

El Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) is a Mexican celebration on November 1 — a day when families celebrate and remember their departed love ones. It is thought that the spirits of the dead visit their families on October 31 and then hang around to party for awhile before departing on November 2.

In America, the main event is Halloween, which is held each year on October 31. The holiday that features trick-or-treating and other ghostly fun events takes its name from All Hallows Evening (Hallow e’en).

All around the area, Halloween activities have been filling entertainment calendars for a few weeks already. There is a wide array of special sites, holiday activities and scary events to satisfy almost any taste. The following is a look at many of these events.

The 51st Annual Delaware County Halloween Parade (http://visitmediapa.com) will start at 2 p.m. on October 24 at the Media Elementary School’s Barrall Field (State and Edgmont streets, Media) and follow a route through downtown through Media.

Parade participants will include clowns, community groups, classic and antique cars from the Pennsylvania Historical Car Club and the County Corvette Club, fire engines, high school marching bands and hundreds of  walkers in their Halloween costumes.

The parade will move from Barrall Field and proceed west on State Street, north on Orange Street and east on Front Street before returning back to its starting point. Rain date is October 25 at 2 p.m.

On October 25, Linvilla Orchards (137 West Knowlton Road, Media, 610-876-7116, www.linvilla.com) is hosting its annual “Costume Parade” with registration from noon-2 p.m.

Activities get underway at noon when children can jam with Makin’ Music Instruments. There will be a special surprise superstar guest appearance at 1 p.m. and a “Dance Party” at 2 p.m. The parade will take place at 3 p.m. followed by a music show by Makin’ Music. The parade winners will be announced at 4 p.m.

Each child receives a treat and Linvilla is offering great prizes with three winners from each age group. The Grand Prize is a $100 Linvilla Orchards gift certificate.

“Candlelight Ghost Tours” (Fort Mifflin, Fort Mifflin and Hog Island roads, Philadelphia, 215-685-4167, http://fortmifflin.us) are scheduled for October 24. Visitors can tour historic (and haunted) Fort Mifflin by candlelight from 7-10 p.m. each night and hear tales both historic and haunting on a candlelight tour of National Historic Landmark Fort Mifflin.

Widely regarded as one of the most haunted sites in the country, Fort Mifflin shares true stories of paranormal activity experienced by decades of visitors and staff — no decorations, no blood….just real ghosts.This event is billed as an “authentic experience.”

Tours are generally appropriate for ages 8-and-older. Tours last about an hour and depart from the Hospital Building (adjacent to the Parking Lot) every 15-20 minutes beginning at 7 p.m. The last tour departs at 10 p.m. Admission is $20 for adults and $15 for students (12 and under).

On October 24, Rock Ford Plantation (881 Rockford Rd., Lancaster, 717-392-7223, www.rockfordplantation.org) will host the 6th Annual Headless Horseman’s Ball at 6:30 p.m.

Guests will joy a spirited evening with Ichabod Crane and other residents of the enchanted town of Sleepy Hollow during the party which is being held in the special event barn and tent. The ball features a catered buffet menu by Pierre DeRagon Personal Chef Services, dancing and DJ music by MixMaster’s Entertainment. There will also be a silent auction of exquisite items and one-of-a-kind experiences.

Costumes are optional and, even though the ball has a Sleepy Hollow theme, guests do not have to dress according to this theme. Reservations may be made by calling 717-392-7223 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Tickets are $75 per person and includes complimentary bar. All proceeds from the Headless Horseman’s Ball benefit Rock Ford Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit organization.

Penns Woods Winery (124 Beaver Valley Road, Chadds Ford, 610-459-0808, www.pennswoodswinery.com) is presenting a special event this year called “Painting in Pumpkinland.” It will be held October 24, 25 and 31 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. each day.

Participants will be able to choose their pumpkins from the Penns Woods Pumpkin Patch and decorate them — Paint them, sticker them, glitter them and more. The cost is $15 -18/per pumpkin (depending on size). Price includes pumpkin and all decorating materials.

Wine by the glass and bottle will be available for all adults over 21 and there will be live music and food trucks. Visitors can take family photos in the winery’s pumpkin patch with our historic barn in the background. There will also be other fun Halloween activities for children.

Music will be performed by Sean Smith on October 24, Aaron Hindorff on October 25 and Pete Marziano on October 31.

The 25th annual edition of “Haunted Hayride, Bates Motel and Haunted Corn Trail at Arasapha Farm” (1835 N. Middletown Rd., Gradyville, 610-459-0647, www.thebatesmotel.com) will be scaring visitors through November 1.The haunted hayride through the woods features monsters, special effects and actors. The Bates Motel has haunted rooms with special effects and computerized lighting. A haunted trail is cut through a cornfield inhabited by monsters. Admission prices are: Haunted Hayride, $20; Bates Motel, $15; Haunted Corn Maze, $15; combination tickets, $40. There are reduced rates for children.

“Valley of Terror” (1215 Wawaset Rd., Kennett Square, 484-886-6080, www.valleyofterror.com) will be held now through November 1 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday each weekend and will offer two attractions — “Zombie Safari,” which features a zombie-killing ride in the back of a 40-foot military truck stocked with individual, bolted-down paintball guns, and “Gateway to Hell,” which is an unguided and unlit stroll through scary territory. Admission is $20 for “Gateway to Hell,” $25 for the “Zombie Safari” and $38 for a “Combo Ticket.”

Pennhurst Asylum (100 Commonwealth Drive, Spring City, 484-866-8964, www.pennhurstasylum.com), which is open through November 1, is on the site of a former mental asylum which has been shuttered for over a quarter of a century. It has been transformed into a haunted attraction with huge sets, detailed rooms and live actors. Visitors can also explore the labyrinth of underground tunnels. Tickets are $16 for “Pennhurst Asylum”, “Dungeon of Lost Souls” or “Tunnel Terror,” $20 for “Ghost Hunt” and $45 for a four-event combo.

“Hurricane Hill Farm Maze” (Baldwin’s Farm, 704 East Reeceville Road, Coatesville, 610-384-6952, www.hhfmaze.com) will be open Saturdays and Sundays until November 1. This event features miles of trails through a five-acre corn maze along with a corn slide, hayrides, a pumpkin patch and a farm animal display. Tickets are $13 for adults and children and $10 for seniors (ages 60 and over).

Corn mazes, hayrides, a pumpkin patch and scarecrows will be featured at Ramsey’s Farm (500 Ramset Road, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-477-1499, http://www.ramseysfarm.com) on weekends now through November 1. The theme for the Corn Maze at Ramsey’s Farm this year is a trip around the world with sections for North America, Europe, South America, Africa, Australia and Asia. Tickets are $7 for the corn maze, $4 for the sorghum maze, $3 for the hay maze, $2 for pumpkin painting and $3 for a hayride.

Another popular corn maze in the area is running now through November 7 at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm (150 Cherry Hill Road, Ronks, 717-687-6843, www.cherrycrestfarm.com). The main attraction is Cherry Crest’s “Amazing Maize Maze.” Billed as “the world’s most dynamic and interactive corn maze,” it is a five-acre corn maze with over two-and-one-half miles of paths, scenic bridges, and clues. There will also be a “Flashlight Maze” every Friday and Saturday night. Tickets are $17 on Thursday and Fridays and $20 on Saturdays.

For “Count’s Halloween Spooktacular at Sesame Place” (100 Sesame Place, Langhorne, 215-752-7070, www.sesameplace.com), the popular amusement park has been converted into a Halloween-themed safe venue for kids with trick or treating, pumpkin decorating, hayrides and a hay maze.

Featured attractions, which will continue until November 1, are “Abby Cadabby’s Magical Halloween Maze,” “Rubber Duckie Costume Party,” and “The Not-So-Spooky Hayride.” Admission to the park is $45.

 “Halloween Haunt at Dorney Park” (3830 Dorney Park Road, Allentown, 610-395-3724, www.dorneypark.com), which runs now through November 1, features scary creatures roaming the park and scarecrows lining line the walkways while frightening activities take place at the following attractions — “Fright Lane Including Skeleton Key,” “Chamber of Horrors” and “CarnEvil” along with seven mazes and four “Creepy Scare Zones.” Admission is $37.

The  “24th Annual Fright Fest” (Six Flags Great Adventure, Route 537, Jackson, NJ, 732-928-2000, www.sixflags.com), which is running now through November 1, features family-oriented activities during the day and much scarier attractions after dark for teens and adults including “Asylum,” “Blood Shed,” “Voodoo Island,” “Total Darkness,” “Wasteland,” “Circus Psycho,” “Bone Butcher Terror-tory,” “The Manor,” “The Bloody Fountain” and “Skyscreamer of Doom.” Tickets start at $49.99.

Ghost Tour of Philadelphia (215-413-1997, www.ghosttour.com), Ghost Tour of Lancaster (717-687-6687, www.ghosttour.com) and Ghost Tour of Strasburg (717-687-6687, www.ghosttour.com) operate through November and offer an eerily entertaining evening of true ghost stories and real haunted houses. Tickets are $17 for adults for Philadelphia and $15 for Lancaster and Strasburg and $10 for children at all locations.

The “30th Annual Jason’s Woods” (99 Stehman Road, Lancaster, 717-872-5768, www.jasonswoods.com), which is running through November 7, is a horror show complex that features a combination of live actors, impressive animation and scary special effects. Popular attractions include “Horrifying Hayride,” “Chamber of Horrors,” “Zombie Apocalypse,” “Lost in Jason’s Woods,” “Carnival of Fear,” “Fields of Fright” and the “The Grand Jason’s Woods Theater.” Admission prices are for combo tickets are $25 for three attractions and $40 for six.

“Valley of Fear” (300 W. Bristol Road, Feasterville, 215-942-9787, www.valleyoffear.com), which is open through November 1, features four “heart pounding attractions” — “Haunted Hayride,” “UnderWorld,” Zombie Escape Maze” and “Operation Z Paintball.”  Admission prices start at $19.

“Terror Behind the Walls” (Eastern State Penitentiary, 2124 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, 888-763-NITE, www.easternstate.org), which continues through November 7, takes place at a site Penitentiary that was once was an active prison and is now a National Historic Landmark. It is a scream-inducing event featuring laser and special-effect lighting, digital sound, sinister scents, animatronic creatures and 3-D illusions. Admission prices, which vary with the date, range from $13-$39.

“Pumpkinland” (Linvilla Orchards, 137 West Knowlton Road, Media, 610-876-7116, www.linvilla.com), which is open through November 1, features fairy tale characters from nursery rhymes along with a huge scarecrow and a really tall storybook. Other activities include train rides, a straw bale maze, hayrides, pick-your-own apples and pony rides. Another attraction, which runs through October 30, is “Hayride to the Witch’s House.” Admission is free and hayrides are $9 per person.

 “Field of Screams” (Stone Battery Road, Lancaster, 717-285-7748, www.fieldofscreams.com), which is open now through November 9, features “Den of Darkness” (three-story horror house), “Frightmare Asylum” (walk-through haunted barn), “Extreme Blackout,” “Nocturnal Wasteland” and the “Haunted Hayride” (a 25-minute fright-filled ride featuring state-of-the-art special effects, pyrotechnics and animatronics). Admission is $34.

October 24 is the date for “Ghosts in the Graveyard” (Old Swedes Historical Site, 606 Church Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-652-5629, www.oldswedes.org). From 6:30-9 p.m. each night, visitors will be able to stroll through the complex, meet some of the ghosts who reside in the site’s burial grounds and maybe even solve the mystery of the late night bell ringing at Old Swedes Church. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students (ages 12-17).

The “Great Pumpkin Express Trains” (West Chester Railroad, Market Street Station, West Chester, 610-430-2233, www.westchesterrr.net) are scheduled for October 25. The “haunted trains” with ghoulish characters leave West Chester’s Market Street Station at noon and 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults and $15 for children.

“West Chester Halloween Parade” (Market and Church streets, West Chester, 610-436-9010, www.west-chester.com), which is slated for October 28, starts at 7 p.m. on Market Street between Church and Darlington streets and features performances by local high school bands and cheerleading squads. Rain date is October 29 at 7 p.m.

“Boo at the Zoo” (Brandywine Zoo, 1001 N. Park Drive, Wilmington, 302-571-7747, www.brandywinezoo.org) will be held on October 23 and 24 from 5-7:30 p.m. each night. The popular annual non-scary family event features games, animal enrichment programs, live critters and trick-or-treating. Children (and their grown-ups) are encouraged to wear costumes. Tickets are $4 for adults and $2 for children

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