Three years after Halloween riots broke out at Keene State in New Hampshire, the Pumpkin Festival is returning to the city. Keene State College and festival organizers are taking extreme steps to make sure this year is quieter and students aren’t happy about it.
“The majority of the students weren’t even at Pumpkin Fest yet we’re being punished for what happened in 2014,” said KSC Sophomore Alex Pappas.
Pappas and the rest of the student body got an email this week from the school administration explaining that all off-campus visitors will be banned starting Thursday, Oct. 26 and going through Halloween weekend.
“It’s intended to ensure the well-being of students,” said Keene State VP of Student Affairs Kemal Atkins.
Students are outraged.
“Honestly, I was really mad I thought they took it to an extreme,” said Corrinn Colford. “It’s disappointing.”
Her friend Katelynn Kaimi agrees, saying, “It’s not fair, it sucks.”
At the height of the festival, downtown Keene was lit up with upwards of 30,000 jack-o-lanterns, a 2013 World Record. But festival organizers admit the things will be much different this year.
“This is literally one-tenth the size of what it used to be,” said Tim Zinn, who is on the board of directors for the non-profit running the festival.
They’ve changed the day from Saturday to Sunday, Oct. 29, from 1 p.m. - 7 p.m., beefed up security, and aren’t inviting any vendors.
They’ve even posted messages online urging out-of-towners to stay home.
“It seems like a little bit of tough love this year, but we can’t make everyone happy,” Zinn said.
Pappas is so unhappy, he started a petition that’s got more than 550 signatures in three days and growing by the hour.
Despite the students’ efforts, school leaders tell us the policy stands to make sure students and this community are safe. Zinn says festival organizers fully support it.