Sunday , June 16 2024

The Oily Jack-o-Lantern of Wilmington

One of the wonders and astonishments of a childhood in the South Bay area of Los Angeles for the last 53 years has been the monstrous, toothy nighttime glow of Smilin’ Jack, the world’s largest jack-o-lantern, grinning in the distance, heralding that trick or treat is nigh.

I vividly recall the awe this massive, magical orb generated in we kids over 40 years ago, and recall the sadder-but-wiser moment when I realized Jack was in fact a painted, pumpkin-shaped, 3 million-gallon storage tank at the ConocoPhillips (formerly Union Oil) refinery in Wilmington.

Preparing Smilin’ Jack for his annual appearance requires more than 100 gallons of orange, black and white paint. According to refinery engineers, if the giant jack-o-lantern were filled with pumpkin meat, there would be enough to make 26,800,000 pumpkin pies – but they would be very oily pies.

This year, ConocoPhillips is once again inviting the neighbors to see Smilin’ Jack up close, snag some caramel corn, and shatter childhood illusions amidst the pungent gas and piping of its Anaheim St. petrochemical palace on the nights of October 30 and October 31, from 6 to 9 p.m. More than 30,000 costumed kiddies and their escorts are expected to stop by.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted,, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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One comment

  1. This is one of my favorite memories as a kid, went ever year in the mid 70’s…..glad to see they are still doing it