Pumpkin … Pumpkin … Who’s got the pumpkin?

Published 10:12 am Thursday, October 29, 2009

KENOVA, W.Va. — Halloween. It’s that time of year for ghosts, goblins and one man going head over heels for pumpkins.

That’s right. It’s time for the famed Pumpkin House in Kenova, a veritable fantasy of Jack-O-Lantern creations that bring the crowds to a clapboard house on Beech Street once a year.

This creation of Ric Griffith has even gained national attention from showing up on the Today show to an interview with Ellen Degeneres.

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This year the Jack-O-Lantern quota will be about the same; just a few over 3,000 pumpkins will be scooped, carved and perched throughout the yard of Griffith’s turn of the century Victorian house.

However, this season there will be an additional event to the nightly ode to the pumpkin that takes Griffith and his band of volunteers about a month to put together.

On Friday and Saturday nights starting at 7:30 there will be readings of an abbreviated version of Washington Irving’s famed “Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Readers will be local television celebrities with performances each half-hour until 9:30 p.m.

As each performance begins to wind down, the audiences will be drawn to the earthen floodwall across from Griffith’s house.

There in all his macabre glory will be the Headless Horseman, who will get his signal to appear to the listeners via mobile phone technology.

“I don’t think the actual headless horseman used a cell phone,” Griffith said. “He never had an ear to hang it on.”

The Pumpkin House started about three decades ago when Griffith carved a pumpkin a piece for his three daughters.

As he perched them atop the porch railing, he thought how much better his house would look if he added some more.

That more has become thousands of pumpkins filling every crevice and cranny of Griffith’s front porch and yard.

There’s a wall of pumpkin musicians playing along to a computerized light and music program; a six-foot high wooden pyramid filled with hieroglyphics, jackals and ankhs, all jigsawed into the sides of pumpkins; a pumpkin soda jerk dishing out fake sundaes; plus owls, pussy cats and a president or two.

Since 1978 Griffith and his volunteers have carved close to 30,000 pumpkins and since the vegetable in question is a perishable commodity, that carving gets done in marathon sessions before show time.

Year after year crowds fill the street outside Griffith’s house for three or four days before and after Halloween proving what his wife once told him.

“If you carve them, they will come.”