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Nov 13, 2014 10:23 PM

Keene Residents sound off about the future of the Pumpkin Festival


KEENE - "It was very terrifying," said Lillian O'Reilly. "It was very terrifying."

O'Reilly was one of more than 50 people who came to Thursday night's meeting at the Keene Public Library.

O'Reilly had watched the riots play out from her front door and now she says, the time has come to put an end to the Pumpkin Festival or at least, move it somewhere else.

"Three years ago, I said it was time for a hiatus," O'Reilly said.

The violence, she said, has escalated over the last few years.

Jessica White set up the meeting through Facebook in her effort to let residents get their say before the city's official meeting next month.,

"We're done and we don't want it or we're going to continue on and here's what our expectations are if we do," said White, of the Facebook event, Take Back Keene.

Most of the people at the meeting said they wanted to see the Festival end or go to another location, while just a few were in favor of keeping the Festival as it is now.

"Keene is not prepared and it's not that they can't be prepared, it's because we're physically not large enough," said

"I think the kids are already sort of shamed already and I wouldn't expect the same behavior next year," said Peter Capmbell.

Many residents said the riots tarnish the city's image.

"When people now hear Keene, they immediately think, oh, the riots and Pumpkin Fest," Said Sarah Poitras of Keene.

Many Keene State College students we spoke with said they are being unfairly singled out.

"Someone started to yell at me and my group of friends, oh, are you Keene State College students," said Sofia Thornblad, a sophmore. "You guys are awful."

"I've watched it evolve from day one," said O'Reilly. "i've watched it evolve that more and more came back. More and more came back."

And now, O'Reilly said,m she can't sit back and watch any longer.

City officials are expected to meet December 2nd to discuss the fate of the event.


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