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Pumpkins are a staple in fall festivities and holiday traditions. We use them as decorations, to make yummy desserts, and to give our homes that cozy autumn feel. We all know and love them, but have you ever wondered where their origin came from?

The tradition of carving large turnips and potatoes was carried over from Ireland a couple hundred years ago. The Irish incorporated this custom in their autumnal celebration, based on the legends of “Stingy Jack”, in order to light the way for good spirits and scare off bad ones. The custom is carried on to help “Jack’s” wandering spirit find his way through the dark and keep him from coming into homes. This is also where the term Jack-o-lantern came from.

The Irish had practiced this for centuries, and when they traveled to America they brought this tradition with them. Upon arrival, pumpkins were discovered, and because of the larger size and ideal shape, they were soon included in the custom. Today, they have become the most popular canvas among Americans, and pumpkins are now seen as the symbol for fall and the harvest.

Aside from the traditional carving of pumpkins, there are so many other ways you can decorate with them.

  • Lining the pathway to your home.
  • Carving the top, preserving, and placing a bouquet of flowers inside.
  • Creating a fun diorama.

The possibilities are endless, and here at Strasburg Rail Road, we have a tradition of our own.

During our Annual Spooktacular event, we provide our guests with complimentary pumpkins to decorate with all sorts of fun embellishments! Each family member can create a beautiful masterpiece that you can display at home all season long!

This family event is the perfect time to bring your loved ones to a harvest celebration and enjoy all the fall festivities. Come dressed up in your favorite family-friendly costume, enjoy trick-or-treating, games, harvest-themed crafts, and, of course, pumpkin decorating!

Ride aboard our historical steam engine to the picturesque Groff’s Grove. On the way, you will travel past a graveyard and pause to hear the ghost of old LO&S #9. When you arrive, you will be greeted with a festive harvest celebration, where your children can enjoy all the activities that this event has to offer. Upon return, your family can continue to experience Strasburg Rail Road’s Fun Extras, including Cranky Cars, Pint-sized Pufferbelly, and the Pump Cars.

Join us in celebrating Strasburg Spooktacular with your family and friends! Purchase your tickets ahead of time to make the most of your time during our harvest event, and be sure to check out the other upcoming fall festivities we offer here at Strasburg Rail Road, such as the “Legacy of Sleepy Hollow” train ride event.