Nothing has made me happier during the pandemic than to learn The Pumpkin House has adapted and will be The Pumpkin Community this year. It’s my favorite autumn event.

I’m sad the CK AutumnFest was canceled, but the board decided it wouldn’t be safe to allow all those people to mill around town with COVID-19 floating around. I agree.

But Ric Griffith, originator of The Pumpkin House, was determined to keep the tradition alive and he found a way.

I like to brag I knew about The Pumpkin House before it was a thing.

On the way to work one morning, I detoured down Beech Street in Kenova and discovered what I would guess was at least 100 pumpkins glowing on the front porch of a beautiful Victorian-era house. I told a photographer about it and we had a photo in the newspaper.

Each year, The Pumpkin House event grew. Pumpkins were added and more visitors came.

It became an October habit to drive to work via Beech Street and see the pumpkins. This meant, I had seen them only before dawn, not during the “witching hour.”

One Halloween, my husband and I had gone to Charleston to see a concert; a friend hitched a ride to attend a different event.

On the way back, close to midnight, I told my crew, “Let’s drive by The Pumpkin House so you guys can see it. You won’t be sorry.”

They weren’t.

We parked and walked around in Griffith’s yard, taking in the sight of more than 1,000 lighted jack-o-lanterns, some resting on wooden shelves, some on the porch, some along the sidewalk. There was spooky music and, best of all, a couple dozen other people wandering around in the Griffith’s yard taking in the sights.

Walking around in a stranger’s yard with a bunch of other strangers, lit by jack-o-lanterns and hearing Halloween music in the background — talk about surreal!

We spent about 30 minutes there and could have spent more time, but the next day was a work day and we’d already surpassed bedtime by hours.

Eventually, The Pumpkin House gave rise to the CK Autumn Fest, getting both Kenova and Ceredo into the act. The event, which lasts several days, has all the elements of a good fall festival, plus The Pumpkin House. Importantly to the towns, the festival brings lots of commerce into the community.

Griffith has asked members of the community to take a pumpkin from his place, carve it and light it next weekend, keeping it outside for visitors to enjoy. Although he’s not sure how much participation he’ll get, he hopes it will be worth your taking a driving tour of the towns.

I’m sure it will be the highlight of my Halloween.

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