Keene NH rejects pumpkin festival after last year’s violence

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KEENE, N.H. — The City Council in Keene has overwhelmingly rejected a permit for the annual Pumpkin Festival after alcohol-fueled violence last year led to injuries, property damage and more than 100 arrests.

The council voted 13-1 Thursday night not to grant the license.

The festival has been a family-friendly event for more than 20 years where participants try to set the record for most carved and lighted jack-o-lanterns.

Last year, police in riot gear used tear gas and pepper balls to control crowds that reached up to 2,000 people during the disturbances that erupted near Keene State College. More than 170 students were disciplined.

The nonprofit group running the festival, Let It Shine, wanted the city to develop a security plan for the festival. That was estimated to cost more than $300,000.