Keene State College’s annual “Pumpkin Lobotomy” event made its return for the second year in a row since the festivities were put on hold in 2014.
On the morning of Friday, October 25, the autumn leaves set the scene as preparations began for a day of festivities on campus, with hundreds of pumpkins arriving at Fiske Quad for carving. Students, families and community members started trickling in at noon, and the pumpkin carving began almost immediately. Attendees arriving in costume had their names entered into a raffle to win prizes, and the first 200 students to arrive received complimentary T-shirts.
Student organizations from around Keene State set up tables outside Fiske Hall, providing snacks, activities and reading materials to promote their groups and clubs. The Keene State College Democrats hosted a mock election and discussed current presidential candidates at their table, while Live Well KSC provided healthy trail mix with nutritional information. The Film Society’s flyers advertised the evening’s screening of “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” while KSC Scriptor invited attendees to participate in an ongoing Halloween-themed flash fiction contest. Outside of Morrison Hall, Keene State Dining provided snacks for attendees such as chili, nachos, cheesecake, pudding and hot cider.
The Office of Student Involvement not only made and handed out free cotton candy at its table but also hosted a game of bowling with a lane of hay bales, small pumpkins for bowling balls and painted Halloween-themed pins. Jessica Gagne Cloutier, a representative of SI, told interviewers that they had spent the prior week painting their props and preparing activities for the day. She attended the event dressed like a strawberry.
Speakers set up in front of Huntress Hall filled the quad with music until 2 p.m. A live band of seniors arrived and began setting up around 1:30 p.m. The hard rock group Afterimage consists of five KSC seniors: Griffin Romprey, Jason Coburn, Casey Daron, Brandon Curcio, and Andrew LeCuyer. LeCuyer could not attend, so guest drummer Nathan “Nelly” Nelson substituted for the afternoon. Afterimage played a variety of covers until 3 p.m., talking and joking with the audience and giving shout-outs to students in costume. The band announced, because of their upcoming graduation, they performed at the Pumpkin Lobotomy for their first and last time and one of their last times in Keene. They wished everyone a good Halloween next week.
Caroline Morgan from KSC Student Government had positive things to say about the day’s turnout of participants, saying it had surpassed their expectations based on the previous year’s event, even within the first hour. As Morgan explained, the Student Government organized and kept track of everyone who signed up to host a table. However, Student Gov also had their own table across from Rhodes hall and hosted a costume contest.
Emily Hill, a sophomore at KSC, worked at the Center for Writing’s table to advertise the center and its activities during the National Day on Writing, such as a scavenger hunt for paper owls. She also arrived wearing a tall foam giraffe head and entered the costume contest.
The festivities began to wind down at 3:30 p.m., and tables outside Fiske and Parker packed up to leave, but the crowds lingered. The mingling and pumpkin carving continued until 4 p.m.
Keene State’s Pumpkin Lobotomy event began with the hopes of becoming an annual campus celebration, but the future of the long-lasting tradition looked uncertain when Pumpkin Fest 2014 saw vandalism and disturbances of the peace, chiefly blamed on partying college students. In the fall of 2018, however, Pumpkin Lobotomy returned with the support of Keene State’s student leadership and campus organizations.
Lonnie Hiltz can be contacted