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Display Features 2,624 Pumpkins

October 31, 2002

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KENOVA, W.Va. (AP) _ It started innocently enough: Ric Griffith carved a few pumpkins to fill his porch and teach his daughters about Halloween.

As his children grew, so did the project.

Twenty-four years and 14,226 pumpkins later, Griffith’s annual Halloween display of carved jack-o-lanterns has reached a new plateau. This year, 2,624 pumpkins will create a lighting display that can be seen across the Ohio River.

``It has a magical effect on people,″ says Griffith, a pharmacist and president of Kenova’s City Council. ``The response both amazes and amuses me.″

He expects more than 10,000 visitors to flock to Kenova, a town of 3,485 on the Ohio River, to visit the house. On Halloween, a police officer directs traffic along his street.

What began with four pumpkins was up to 12 in 1979 and swelled to 800 by 1997 during what Griffith calls his ``days of minimal insanity.″

``Because of people’s reaction, it jumped into an obsessive-compulsive disorder.″

Griffith has spent $1,000 to wire his front lawn with electrical outlets; only about 20 pumpkins are lit with candles. Eventually, he would like to move the display to the former Ceredo-Kenova High School and get the whole town involved.

``This is crazy,″ Griffith said. ``But it’s one of the prices of my lunacy.″

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