The great Pumpkin House

Shalee Rogney, Reporter

The Pumpkin House has been a tra-dition in Ceredo-Kenova for more than 20 years. The carving of more than 3,000 pumpkins is a process that has been taken on by Ric Griffith and 500 volunteers.

Griffith started the tradition in 1992, and the pumpkins are put on display outside the Griffith’s 115-year-old

Victorian-style house for all specta-tors to come and see. People come from as close as Hun-tington and as far as California to see the phenomenal display of pumpkins.

“Over the years I think it has grown because of the peoples’ response to it. When we first began, the kids from Ceredo and Kenova would be the ones who enjoyed it as they went trick-or-treating,” Griffith said. “And then we began to pick up visitors from other areas and as the enthusiasm grew for it so did the volunteers.”

The making of the Pumpkin House starts in late September when the build-ing of the pumpkin wall begins. Come Oct. 1, the pumpkins are delivered by the truckload.

After the delivery is complete, the creative process starts. Griffith and his daughter spend the next three weeks drawing faces and scenes on the pump-kins. On average the duo draws on 100 pumpkins a day.

The week leading up to the first night of lighting the pumpkins, more than 500 volunteers come to carve the pumpkins, about 500 a day. Without the volunteers there would not be more than 3,000

pumpkins carved every year.

“It’s always been, for me, the same amount of work when we did just a few hundred to now with 3,000 because I’ve gotten enough help from volunteers. I estimate about 600-700 people come each year,” Griffith said.

Griffith started the process earlier this year so the Pumpkin House could be a part of the C-K Autumn Festival.

Every year is a clean slate, but Griffith has a favorite pumpkin that will always be carved for the collection. A display is set up with Marshall University and West Virginia University logos, but alongside the WVU pumpkin is the WVU burning couch.

The tradition started as a family activ-

ity. Griffith, his wife and three daughters began carving pumpkins, which eventu-ally filled up the front porch and spread onto the front yard. As the pumpkins began to attract more attention Griffith began to increase the number of carved pumpkins.

The Pumpkin House is not only a local tradition, but it has also gained na-tional attention. It has been featured on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Today Show and Griffith was even contacted by a radio station in Australia.

Griffith will always remember one visitor. Eight years ago an elderly woman approached Griffith with tears in her eyes because the Pumpkin House brought her back to her childhood and the feelings of being young again.

“She said ‘I want to tell you some-thing: As you grow up you lose the wonderment of childhood,’” Griffith said, “‘Never again do you feel like you did when you got your first bicycle or on your birthday or Christmas morning, but today I enjoyed this that much that I had this feeling and I wanted to thank you.’”

Shalee Rogney can be contacted at [email protected].