On October 29, Keene State had its annual Pumpkin Palooza event, put on by the KSC Student Government. The event has been going on for over 20 years but only last year was the name changed from “Pumpkin Lobotomy” to “Pumpkin Palooza.”
For the event to happen, the Student Government plans, orders pumpkins from a local farm, sets the menu with the dining team, orders all of the tables and chairs, makes forms for the groups and organizations to fill out to get their table and activity. Student Government also sets everyone’s tables the day of the event, hands out t-shirts and pumpkins, and cleans it all up when the event is over.
Paula Durant, the Student Body Vice president said, “Coming together with all the organizations to get ready for something that’s school wide is really exciting.”
Durant said the process of setting up is “renting all the tables, ordering all the T-shirts and pumpkins and then we get all the supplies for carving the pumpkins and then we have a chart set up for the student organizations.”
About 45 different organizations and groups set up tables and had different kinds of fall and Halloween activities. WKNH DJ’ed the event and there were fall foods and hot beverages.
The Associate Vice President of Student Engagement, Jennifer Ferrell, who is also the advisor for Student Government, said, “I help them with things, help them make connections or suggestions and advice, but the event is really all theirs to run, plan and facilitate, so I would say I help but they get help in lots of ways too.”
Ferrell added, “For instance, a couple weeks ago, [Student Government] and I met with someone from our grounds team and one of our electricians so they could talk about what their needs were for that day because those folks will support the event with the things they do too. Grounds will make sure there are plenty of compost bins and trash bins, and electricians will make sure we have access to the right kind of power that WKNH needs and some of the other tables need.”
Ferrell also said the name change from “Pumpkin Lobotomy” to “Pumpkin Palooza” was a thoughtful decision. “With the pumpkin carving you take the head off and scoop the stuff out. A lobotomy is a medical procedure that was used a lot of times inappropriately in ways for folks who may have been suffering mental illness or things like that as a way to ‘cure’ them, and so there’s sort of this history there with that term and how that might feel of okay, you’re having this fun event where you’re doing these things but you’re using this very sort of insensitive term and so [Student Government] did a very thoughtful decision and said ‘yep, we don’t want to use that anymore, let’s come up with something better that represents the fun pieces of it and isn’t insensitive in that way,’” Ferrell said.
Ferrell also said, “It’s really just a fun community event where everyone can come together and do some of the fall things that everyone loves… It’s a traditional event that really is just based in fun and I love that because there is nothing more that I love than seeing the students and community come together and just have fun, be able to relax, destress a little bit at this time in the semester especially, participate in pumpkin carving and getting to do other fall fun activities and just having a good time.”
Senior Class President Kaitlyn Wilson’s favorite part of Pumpkin Palooza was “Being able to put on an event where the campus is able to come outside and be together. I think that’s been really challenging to put on, especially with the pandemic, so it’s really nice to see everybody together safely in a safe space and just have a good time.” The Class of 2022 gave out crystals and tarot card readings.
Class of 2023 did a photobooth and a game called “Pick a Duck’’ where participants got a prize if they picked the special duck. Fraternity Alpha Sigma Phi did a scavenger hunt, and the prizes included candy and gift cards.
Melinda Gill had a table set up for the Mason Library and they also did a game called “Pumpkins in the Caldron,” in which participants got three tries to get a pumpkin into a caldron and if they succeeded they got a prize. Gill said her favorite part of Pumpkin Palooza was that “It’s a community coming together to have fun, to celebrate the fall season and have a chance for everyone to see one another in a more fun setting than in classes.”
Rebecca Morris was at the KSC Cheerleading table and, for one dollar, participants could throw a paint-filled water balloon at one of the team members. The money went towards competition fees and new uniforms.
The Public Health Club did the “Drunk Goggle Munchkin on a Stick Challenge.” Sam Henry and Brian Reese both agreed that the “community aspect is really important.”