The Bay Area Glass Institute (BAGI) previously held their annual three-day Glass Pumpkin Festival at Santana Row in San Jose, CA, for the last few years. Hundreds of glass pumpkins of all sizes for sale and daily glassblowing demonstrations of turning molten sand into glass pumpkins. That all changed this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The festival is still on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. But spread out over six weekends from October through mid-November. Held inside the BAGI building at the History Park. Alas, no daily glassblowing demonstrations.
Make A Reservation
Before you can attend the festival, you need to make a reservation on the BAGI website. The Glass Pumpkin Festival announcement is on the front page of the website. Take a moment to click on the link to review the social distancing rules.
When I made my reservation a month ago, the event calendar was wide open for anyone to sign up. Now you must create an account to access the calendar. You will have to provide your email address, password, full name, phone number, and address.
You may think that is too much information to provide for a seasonal event like this. Keep in mind that Santa Clara County guidelines require BAGI to maintain a registry for contact tracing. If there is a confirmed coronavirus case, you will be contacted by the county.
After logging into the account, you can pick a date and a time slot on the scheduling page. Hours are Friday from 4:00PM to 6:00PM, Saturday from 10:00AM to 5:00PM, and Sundays from 10:00AM to 4:00PM. Only 15 people allowed inside the building during each hourly time slot.
Click on the “magnifying glass” to view the time slot. Click on “New Participation” button. Your account name should auto populate for the participate name. For each additional person in your party, create a new entry and change the name.
What To Expect
The BAGI building occupies the south-east corner of the History Park. Drive past the overflow parking lot and the entrance to the History Park. An entrance near the end leads into a separate parking lot and the BAGI building. You may want to print out the History Park map and driving directions for reference.
When you arrive at the BAGI building, you need to check-in at the entrance. The volunteer will go over the social distancing rules for the glassware. Take a handbasket with bubble wrap on the bottom. If you pick up something to look at or buy, put it in the basket.
Take the basket to the volunteer at the counter to check out. You pay only for the glassware that you want to buy. Any glassware that you don’t buy will get sanitize and put back out for display. Prices are $30 USD for a tiny glass pumpkin to over $300 USD for a large glass pumpkin.
Debit and credit cards accepted. No cash transactions.
Visiting The Festival
My friend and I drove out to History Park on the east side of San Jose, CA. What Geraldo Rivera called “the ghetto side of town” in a 1986 live national broadcast of a drug bust. Make sure you lock up your car in the BAGI parking. Otherwise, it might look like this vehicle after vandals stripped it down and left it to rust.
After the volunteer went over the social distancing rules, neither of us took a handbasket. We weren’t there to buy anything. My friend took pictures for his Instagram account. He liked the fact that he could take pictures without a crowd jostling him about. Since there was no glassblowing demonstration, I recorded video for my montage video.
Glass pumpkins weren’t the only glassware available this year. New items included acorns, corn cobs, and ghosts. An expanded theme that embraces the fall season of Halloween and Thanksgiving Day. Many glass pumpkins were simply amazing in color and detail. I think the quality this year was much better than previous years at Santana Row.