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Pumpkin House to light up AutumnFest

On October 24, 2013

Kenova Mayor Ric Griffith and dozens of volunteers began carving pumpkins earlier this week in preparation for the 2013 Pumpkin House.

Griffith’s three-story Victorian home, located at 748 Beech St. in Kenova, will light up with thousands of jack-o-lanterns this weekend in the heart of the Ceredo-Kenova AutumnFest.

The family tradition turned community event has grown from five hand-carved pumpkins in 1978 to almost 3,000 now. The event, which now draws between 20,000 and 30,000 visitors from across the region, has garnered national attention through features on CNN, The Today Show, The Ellen Degeneres Show and the 2012 HGTV special, “Halloween Tricked Out.”

But Griffith doesn’t do this all alone. The pumpkin displays are put together with the help of hundreds of volunteers.

“I estimate there’s between 500 to 600 people that help us each year,” Griffith said. “They just walk into the backyard and say, ‘What can I do?’ and it’s wonderful. That’s how we get it done.”

In addition to the pumpkins displayed throughout the yard, along the porch and atop the roof, more than 500 will appear in the return of the music wall, where electric lights within each carved masterpiece will be synced to music.

“You can see from all the wires over there, it’s like the Griswold’s Family Halloween,” Griffith said. “Occasionally, we would run extension cords out of every window of the house.”

After blowing the circuits twice, and ruining one freezer full of food, Griffith eventually dug conduit lines and ran it into the house, which has been re-wired, just to support the event.

In addition to the newly extended music wall, now 60 feet wide, two new features will make their debut to include an interactive “pumpkin piano” and a 16-foot tall inflatable Grim Reaper.

“It is a children’s celebration, but it’s also the adults and the interactions that we have,” Griffith said, recalling the kind words of visitors who’ve compared the experience to the feeling of “Christmas morning” and who have come to cherish the visits as part of their own family traditions.

“It gave us sort of a different perspective and a reason to keep doing this crazy thing,” Griffith said.

AutumnFest will kick off Friday, and Griffith is expected to have all pumpkin displays ready by Saturday. The display will be lit every night through dawn until Nov. 1. Both the Pumpkin House and AutumnFest are open to the public.

Britany Miller can be contacted at miller433@marshall.edu.

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