Posted by: Brad Nixon | October 24, 2018

He’s Baaack … Smilin’ Jack!

It’s his time of year. For the weeks before Halloween, he owns this town he surveys from his hilltop.

Smilin Jack Brad Nixon 2555 680

That’s Smilin’ Jack, and he’s appeared on that gourd-shaped petroleum storage tank every Halloween since 1952. He is, beyond all reasonable doubt, the world’s largest jack o’lantern.

Smilin Jack Brad Nixon 2556 680

You may think your neighbors go all-out, decorating their place for the holiday, but they don’t paint a three million gallon storage tank with a hundred gallons of orange, black and white paint (the tank stays orange year-round; Jack’s face only appears at this time of year).


Refinery plant engineers say if that tank contained PUMPKIN, there would be enough to make 26,800,000 pumpkin pies. (No word on how much crust would be required.)


The refinery’s changed ownership several times, but each successor has continued the tradition, currently in the hands of Phillips 66. There’s also community outreach. For several nights as Halloween nears, they hand out treats to the kids in a mile-long line of cars that cruise past the refinery.

Jack’s lighted at night, although I’ve never gotten a particularly good shot. He’s better in person, with that big charisma of his.


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’s no parking along busy Anaheim, and plant security will, understandably, prohibit you from driving into the facility to park. Your best bet is to pull into Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park, across the street, at about 1799 W Anaheim and walk back up to the road. I also have a more difficult to find vantage point, but I don’t have to tell you everything I know.

© Brad Nixon 2018


  1. What a hoot! So much for soulless corporations!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A town, a corporation and a community with a sense of humor – OUTSTANDING!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Maybe they could also paint one of the white tanks like the Sta-Puft Marshmellow Man.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting Jack O Lantern. I’ve never seen Industrial Art like that before.


  5. Can you imagine the fun of being on the painting crew? I don’t care who you are — getting to take part in that is just a big person’s version of kids painting the downtown store windows for Halloween. It’s wonderful! (And have you noticed how the expression changes from sort-of-friendly to vaguely threatening, depending on the angle of the shot?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Every year I tell myself I’m going to call up the public relations department at the refinery and ask if I can watch them paint the tank. I don’t know how they get the pattern on there, but I assume they project it. Maybe next Halloween I can tell that story, if I get my act together and ask. I assume they won’t let me help, but at least I’d like to watch. Stay tuned.
      And, yes, I see that shift in the expression. It’s more dramatic when you have the opportunity I do to drive past and see it from 180 degrees of perspective! Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

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