For a 35th year, the Pumpkin People — and the people who love them — are back in the Mount Washington Valley.
Originally a way to get more visitors to come to Jackson not just on weekends but throughout the week, the first Pumpkin People effort had 10 displays. This year’s celebration has 80 displays at 60 locations in Jackson, Green’s Grant, Bartlett, Intervale, North Conway and Conway, said Kathleen Flammia, executive director of the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce.
This year’s initiative lasts through Oct. 31.
One week in, “it’s been a phenomenal year,” said Flammia on Sunday. “There are some amazing displays out there and a lot of people put a lot of time and effort into them.”
There is a pair of displays that commemorate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. moon landing on July 20, 1969. One of the Apollo 11 displays is at the Home Depot in Conway. The other is on Route 16 in Jackson at the Nordic Village Resort, featuring a Neil Armstrong lookalike pumpkin in a white space suit. There is a large mock-up of the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) behind him.
In a play on Armstrong’s famous words upon setting foot on the moon’s surface, a plaque declares: “One small step for a pumpkin / One giant leap for the pumpkin patch. ...”
Many of the Pumpkin People displays pay homage to movies, such as the “Mary Poppins” display at the Christmas Farm Inn & Spa and the “Christmas Story” display at White Mountain Puzzles, both in Jackson.
However, the chamber doesn’t give participants a general theme, Flammia said, “because we want the creativity to take place.” That creativity, she said, brings thousands of visitors to the Mount Washington Valley.
While there is no objective measure of attendance because the Pumpkin People tour is self-guided, free and ticket-less, Flammia said there’s a good correlation with the number of maps that the chamber distributes during the event.
“Quite frankly, we produce 20,000 full-color maps and I have one box of less than 500 left, and that’s only a week” since Pumpkin People 2019 began, Flammia said. The reverse of the maps has a ballot for the People’s Choice Award.
The maps/ballots are available at the chamber, located at 18 Main St. in Jackson Village, just over the Jackson Covered Bridge, and at all Pumpkin People displays.