Posted by: Brad Nixon | October 10, 2016

Halloween, and the World’s Largest Jack o’ Lantern!

It’s common for businesses, individuals and towns to decorate their offices, homes and streets for major holidays here in the U.S. Probably every town of any size has at least one business known for putting a large lighted star or Christmas tree on top of their building in December. Easter brings out colorful displays in shop windows and stores around the world, and religious, national and cultural holidays everywhere are occasions for decorating.

Despite its popularity, though, Halloween doesn’t get much attention from businesses, although plenty of neighborhoods are chock-full of front yard cemeteries and ghoulish figures as the holiday approaches.

After all, imagine you’re the proprietor of, say, the petroleum refinery in Wilmington, a few miles from my house.


You could string lights from the cracking towers and smokestacks, but it might not be that effective.

Hey! look at that rounded storage tank to the right. What if we got some paint …


That’s Smilin’ Jack, who shows up every year at this time, a tradition at the Phillips 66 refinery since 1952.


The company claims it’s the world’s largest jack o’ lantern. I have no reason to doubt it (comments?). It takes about 100 gallons of paint to create the faces each year. The tank holds 3 million gallons of gasoline, but plant engineers say if it contained PUMPKIN, there would be enough to make 26,800,000 pumpkin pies. (No word on how much crust would be required.)


Visually, refineries are some of the world’s most hard-core industrial scenes, gritty and harsh by nature, and I get a kick out of the humor the company and its predecessors have employed in sustaining this fun tradition (Phillips is the latest in a string of petroleum producers to operate the plant). For several nights as Halloween nears, they hand out treats to the kids in a mile-long line of cars that cruise past.


Smilin’ Jack is lighted at night. I’ll try to drive over some evening and get a shot for you before he reassumes his nondescript guise for another year.

The refinery’s street address is 1722 W Anaheim St., Wilmington, CA 90744. If you go to see and photograph Smilin’ Jack, use caution. There is no parking along busy Anaheim, and plant security will, understandably, prohibit you from driving into the facility to park.

Some of the photographs in this post and select images from Under Western Skies are available on CLICK HERE to view the Underawesternsky image portfolio.

© Brad Nixon 2016, 2017. First image © Google.


  1. That’s a big ol’ punkin’! Imagine how much whipped topic it would take for all those pies!


    • Or, if you’re out of topic, you could use topping. The curse of autocorrect!


    • aaaand … maybe that’s what’s in some of those other giant tanks!


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