You think carving one pumpkin for your front porch is tough? Imagine doing 3,000!
Ric Griffith of Kenova, West Virginia, is known for his insane yet beloved tradition of displaying thousands of pumpkins in his yard for Halloween.
“It’s one of those things that there was no intent or plan,” he told TODAY Home of how it all started. “It just evolved out of a variety of factors and the response that people had to it.”
Griffith, a local pharmacist and the former mayor of the small town, said that what started as a wacky idea has now grown into a beautiful community tradition.
“I have three daughters and when they were young, they and their friends would help me carve pumpkins for the house,” he said. The number of pumpkins kept increasing through the years — hundreds and then thousands — and finally Griffith said, “Let’s do 3,000!”
The significance of this number? How many will fit on his property, he said. It's also a happy coincidence that the population of Kenova is around 3,000, too.
Starting Oct. 19, volunteers head to his backyard and get to work, carving 400-500 pumpkins a day for a week for 16-18 hours a day. Griffith said he usually has a core group of 20 volunteers who are there every day, but other people drop by to help when they can. “It’s organized chaos,” he said. “But every year it works.”
Griffith said he draws about 95% of the carving designs on the pumpkins before the volunteers arrive. Then the kids will scoop and the adults will carve while his wife, Sandy, makes sure everyone working is well-fed. A few local high school classes will donate some decorated pumpkins, too.
As for the carvings, you’ll find different themes throughout. They have a patriotic section every year with all of the presidents represented. There’s also the “cat choir,” which features a bunch of pumpkins carved like into cat shapes with a recording of cats meowing in the background. (Words can’t really do it justice. Experience it here.)
There’s no admission to check out the display and nearly 30,000 people come by to see it in all its glory each year, according to Griffith. It can get pretty crowded so people have to park and walk to see it up close.
The pumpkin house is one of the festivities that’s part of the C-K Autumnfest, which has events like a parade, scavenger hunt and haunted trail.
Griffith said he’s been blessed to meet so many people because of this tradition. “We get visitors from all over the world,” he said. “Last year, a lady from Ireland told me, ‘This is the greatest thing I’ve seen in America so far.’”