After unrest, N.H. pumpkin fest aims for jack-o-lantern mark

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LACONIA, N.H. (AP) — The annual New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival will try to scare up a world record a year after violence and scores of arrests soured its relationship with its longtime host city.

Laconia police Chief Chris Adams said this year’s event was a peaceful success — a change from last year, when alcohol-fueled parties in during the event in Keene led to more than 100 arrests.

“Everybody’s having a really good time,” Adams said.

Laconia’s effort to set a Guinness World Record for lit jack-o’-lanterns is ambitious. Keene wrested the record back from Boston in 2013 with more than 30,500 carved pumpkins. The pumpkin tally was to be announced Saturday night.

Keene had hosted the event since 1991, but last year’s violence — linked to parties at Keene State College — prompted the city council to reject the festival’s permit in April.

Laconia announced plans to take over the festival last spring, and dubbed it “Let It Shine 2015.” Officials said the town’s experience hosting an annual motorcycle week that attracts upward of 100,000 people provided confidence it could manage public safety for the pumpkin festival.

Laconia is a city of about 16,000 in the state’s central Lakes Region.

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