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A Pumpkin Festival Turns To Mayhem In Keene, N.H.

An annual pumpkin festival in Keene, N.H., devolved into mayhem as people threw beer bottles, lit fires, overturned at least one car and clashed with police late Saturday into Sunday morning.

The local Boston CBS station reports that police arrested at least a dozen people and about 30 were injured, forcing police to disperse the crowd with pellets and pepper spray.

The Boston Globe reports the mayhem happened near the Keene State College campus. The paper adds:

"According to the Keene Fire Department, multiple people were transported to a nearby hospital. Witnesses described the scene, largely on or around Wilcox Street, as chaotic, and far more extreme than anything they'd ever seen before.

"The parties were being held along with the Keene Pumpkin Festival, an annual event that is a point of pride for the small New Hampshire community. Last year's festival set a world record of 30,581 carved and lighted jack-o-lanterns at one place and one time

"'Pumpkinfest has always been fun,' said Julie Conlon, 23, who graduated from Keene State in May. 'Yeah, kids drink excessively, but it's never been out of control. This year I watched thousands of kids pile into a backyard and kind of go crazy.'"

In a statement, Keene State College President Anne Huot said she was aware that many of the people involved in the mayhem were college students.

"We intend to hold those individuals accountable for their actions," she said. "We deplore the actions of those whose only purpose was to cause mayhem."

WMUR-TV, which showed images of at least one fire raging in the middle of a street, reports that things were finally quiet this morning.

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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