Pumpkin Festival Gets Ugly in New Hampshire

Riot police respond to Keene incidents
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2014 5:55 AM CDT
Pumpkin Festival Gets Ugly in New Hampshire
Local police, firefighters, and ambulances in New Hampshire responded to large crowds of students as the annual Pumpkin Festival is underway near Keene State College Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014.   (AP Photo/Seth Meyer)

The annual Pumpkin Festival in Keene, New Hampshire, got a bit out of hand yesterday. It seems that students at nearby Keene State College threw an afternoon party celebrating the festival, and after brawls at that gathering, another throng congregated in the same part of town—near both the college and the festival—last night. Riot police responded to both incidents. At least 30 people were hurt in the afternoon, most of them hit by bottles and other objects, and about 12 people were arrested, NECN reports. EMTs reportedly had to dodge bottles themselves as they tried to help people who were hurt. Then, last night, crowds reportedly lit fires, engaged in vandalism, and attempted to flip over at least one car, Boston.com reports. The police "just started walking on the street, with, like, mace, tear gas, and these rubber bullets," says one witness. The violence, which included dumpsters being overturned, continued into the early morning hours today, the Boston Globe reports.

One festival visitor tells NHPR her car was surrounded by a hundreds-strong mob in the afternoon as she tried to leave, and the revelers punched, kicked, and shook it while screaming at her 12-year-old daughter in the back seat. "They put their faces in the window and made these horrible faces and screamed these terrible things at her," she says. "And then they started taking off their shirts and pushing themselves into the windows. At that point she was just beyond consoling." Apparently similar brawls took place during the festival last year—which is perhaps why Keene's police department recently cited the festival as a reason it needed the Pentagon to give it a surplus $286,000 armored vehicle. Both the Colbert Report and Last Week Tonight With Jon Oliver made fun of the department for that, but when all was said and done last night, Keene had four times its typical number of first responders on hand and still had to call for back-up. (More New Hampshire stories.)

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