UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Oh My Gourd!

Oh My Gourd!

Anyone who was near the Boston Common on Saturday, October 21 would have seen the throngs of people and wondered, “What is happening and why can’t I walk through the park?”

The answer to this question of what all the bedlam was is that it was the annual Pumpkin Festival sponsored by Life is Good.

Every year around Halloween, Life is Good, the company known for its smiling character, Jake, puts on the Pumpkin Festival. It raises money for Camp Sunshine, a camp for kids with life-threatening illnesses that runs all year round.

The goal of the event, aside from being a fund raiser, was to set the Guinness World Record for the most jack-o-lanterns in a single place at one time. The record as it previously stood, was set by the Keene Festival in New Hampshire and consisted of 28,952 pumpkins. That particular festival was held on the same day that the Life is Good festival was held this year. “We have a sort of friendly competition going on,” said Jim Laughlin, the communications director for Life is Good.

This year the Guinness World Record was successfully broken. There were 30,128 jack-o-lanterns on the Boston Common. In Keene, on the same day, they only had around 24,000. A combination of beautiful weather and enthusiasm helped make the dream for Boston to break the record a reality. Accountants from Braver and Company counted the registered pumpkins, marked them in a book, and sent it to the Guinness World Records.

The sight of all the orange pumpkins that day was breathtaking, and they overtook and filled the park. Pumpkins were everywhere, and they were all carved beautifully.

However, not all the jack-o-lanterns were made on the site that Saturday. Many different organizations helped by hosting carving parties. “Seventeen UPS facilities in north-eastern Massachusetts carved pumpkins and they were all shipped on the UPS trucks,” Laughlin said. Several colleges participated as well, such as Bryant College in Rhode Island and UMass Lowell.

Festival patrons were encouraged to bring a pumpkin that they made from home. There was also a tent designated for carving, if participants did not bring one of their own.

The festivities started at noon and ended at eight o’clock. There were musicians, and pumpkin seed spitting contests. There was a lot of great food including pumpkin pie. Everywhere I looked there were children running, some in costumes, and parents running after them.

The city was packed with people since the Head of the Charles Regatta was taking place that same day. For many businesses in the area, pumpkin day is one of the busiest and most feared days of the year.

Around six o’clock, right before dark fell, volunteers put votive candles in every jack-o-lantern and lit them. A giant wall of pumpkins stood high in the middle of the Common and magically all illuminated at the same time. A giant “Oohh,” came from the crowd. And then, the spirit of Halloween smiled down on the Pumpkin Festival and Camp Sunshine, and all was well.