Thundering Nerds + Kenova Pumpkin House = NUMERICAL PUMPKINS


Rob Engle

What started as a hobby for Ric Griffith and his daughters has become a worldwide attraction, featuring 3,000 unique pumpkins annually.


Members of Marshall University’s Math Club, The Thundering Nerds, braved the rain Tuesday night to help carve some of the 3,000 pumpkins on display at the world-famous Pumpkin House in Kenova, West Virginia.

Started by Kenova resident Ric Griffith more than 30 years ago, the Pumpkin House will feature 90 pumpkins carved by the club that will be arranged into math equations and displayed for the public to solve.

Bonita Lawrence, professor of mathematics at Marshall, said she has wanted to volunteer at the Pumpkin House for years.

“I’ve been at Marshall for 15 years and have always brought students to the see the Pumpkin House and I always wanted to work with them,” Lawrence said. “I talked to Ric to see if we could volunteer and he said, ‘How about we make it a puzzle?’”

The equations were developed by members of the club and will be displayed on a feature wall to the side of the house. House visitors will have the opportunity to write their answers on a sheet of paper until 5 p.m. Saturday. Griffith plans to announce the winners at 8 p.m. Saturday and award them with prizes.

Secondary education major Kiersten Loony said helping make this contest happen was an exciting opportunity for the brand new club.

“We have 90 pumpkins that will be displayed for everyone to see, and that’s pretty big considering we just started this club this semester,” Loony said. “We actually decided that most of the equations are easy, but considering we’re all math nerds that might be a little bit relative.”

What grew out of a hobby of carving pumpkins with his daughters became a worldwide attraction that relies on volunteers to churn out more than 3,000 unique pumpkins in one week.

“It’s like finals week when you haven’t begun to study,” Griffith said.

Griffith said the unique thing about the Pumpkin House is they have to recreate everything each year from scratch, from the shelving to the delivery to the design.

“I think that’s one reason many people appreciate it,” Griffith said. “They recognize the level of work that goes into this. I need to get the Marshall math students to figure out the man-hours that go into this.”

Griffith’s creation has not only caught the attention of Kenova community but also the attention of media across the globe, from Australia to California to Vietnam.

“I’m a Vietnam veteran,” Griffith said. “A friend of mine was traveling to Ho Chi Minh City sent me a newspapers article in Vietnamese and I could only read one things. It said, ‘Ric Griffith’ in the middle of it, and was all about the Pumpkin House.”

Despite the acclaim, Griffith said his favorite thing about the attraction is its ability to bring people together.

“It’s wonderful because I don’t know any of these people,” Griffith said. “They just come into my yard and say, ‘How can I help?’ If it were not for this hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteers that come every year, this would not be possible. If I ever get to the point where if one of these kind people accidentally ruins a pumpkin and that bothers me, then I need to quit, because that not the spirit of the Pumpkin House,” Griffith said.

The Pumpkin House will be on display, Griffith said, until his wife makes him take everything down.

Rob Engle can be contacted at [email protected]