LACONIA — Can the first ever Laconia Pumpkin Festival establish a new world record for the most lit jack-o'- lanterns in one place?
That question will be answered when results are in at 8 p.m. on Saturday when the final tally is announced. The festival has been registered with Guinness in an attempt to break the world record of 30,581, which was set in Keene in 2013.
Amanda Bullerwell, the local volunteer in charge of the count, says that the count will take place during a five-minute span starting at 6:50 p.m. when teams of counters, each in charge of one section of downtown, will tally up the number of unlit jack-o-lanterns.
That number will be subtracted from the total number on display in the downtown area, which will already have been determined prior to the start of the lighting of the jack-o-lanterns at 4 p.m.
''This is the first time I've done this,'' says Bullerwell, who works at Titeflex and whose husband, Ben, is a partner in Wayfarer Coffee Roasters in Downtown Laconia.
She says that she has been to the Keene Festival several times and was glad to see it find a new home in Laconia.
''This is a good spot for it and I want to see it be a success,'' says Bullerwell, who signed on in April as a volunteer and says that she has been impressed with the enthusiasm being shown in the community for the festival.
Some unsolicited assistance showed up early Friday afternoon at Rotary Park, where Bullerwell was overlooking the placement of jack-o-lanterns, when Laconia High School students in Jon Myers' exercise and nutrition class pitched in to place some of them on stands.
''This is good for Laconia. I'm glad to see it here,'' said Leah Stivali, one of the students, a sentiment echoed by Ciara LaGarde, who said that she liked the festive atmosphere being created.
Welcome centers will be open at several entrances to downtown where visitors can log in their carved pumpkin or arrange to carve a pumpkin at the Community Carving Center at the Bank of New Hampshire.
Volunteers there were gutting some 4,000 pumpkins and were halfway through that amount Friday afternoon according to bank spokesperson Tiffany Benton.
''There's a lot of excitement here. There's even a marriage proposal that will be going up on display on the big tower.'' she said.
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