Pumpkin Festival will try to break jack-o-lantern record

LACONIA, N.H. — Organizers of a New Hampshire pumpkin festival have launched a new effort to break the world record number of illuminated jack-o-lanterns.

The city of Laconia is celebrating the pumpkin festival on Saturday night three years after violence forced its cancellation in Keene. Saturday’s festivities began at noon.

Keene had hosted the October event since 1991, but violence in 2014 prompted the City Council to reject the festival’s permit. Police used tear gas to control crowds during alcohol-fueled disturbances near Keene State College. More than 170 students were disciplined and several dozen were injured.

The festival has been held in Laconia since 2015. Visitors are encouraged to bring a jack-o-lantern and a candle to contribute toward the world record attempt.

The festival had been a family friendly event for more than 20 years and broken world records for most lit jack-o-lanterns in one place. Keene had wrested the jack-o-lantern record from Boston in 2013.

About 40,000 people were expected to visit Laconia between Friday and Saturday.

This year, Keene city council members decided to bring back a separate, smaller festival more focused on children. The vote came after administrators at Keene State College said they had seen social media posts suggesting big parties or dangerous behavior could return.

That pumpkin festival is scheduled for Oct. 29.