By Alejandro Serrano, news correspondent

Nearly 400 jack-o’-lanterns sat in the metal frame of the haunted Punkin’ Manor, waiting to light up the night as families carved their own pumpkins at the Lawn on D’s second annual Punkin’ Fest.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Lawn on D on Saturday to participate in free fall festivities. The main celebration centered around a musical light show featuring the Punkin’ Manor, a wall of jack-o’-lanterns carved by festivalgoers. People from all across New England attended.
“We had a very diverse group [this year],” Ed Slapik, organizer of Punkin’ Fest, said. “I met families from Buffalo, some people from Philly, New Jersey and more, so we had a far reach.”

At the “Big Kids Pumpkin Patch,” there was a long line of festivalgoers waiting to get pumpkins and to test out their carving skills. For those who could not or did not want to carve their pumpkin, there were tables set up with paint and brushes to decorate. The pumpkins were provided for free by Wilson Farm in Lexington.

Those pumpkins were then added to the Punkin’ Manor – a 24-foot-tall and 50-foot-long jack-o’-lantern shelving unit rigged with lighting equipment for a light show.

The centerpiece of the the Manor was Somerville artist Ecco Pierce’s pumpkin, which was nearly 30 inches in diameter, according to Slapik. A large crowd gathered to watch Pierce gut the pumpkin.

“I’ve been part of a studio in Somerville called Artisan’s Asylum for three years, and we tend to participate in fall fests and do live pumpkin carvings,” Pierce said. “Normally, I carve 200-pound pumpkins, but this was 500 pounds, so it was a bit different. I usually just show up and hope that lightning strikes me with inspiration.”

After the pumpkin was carved into a jack-o’-lantern with a menacing grin during the day, it was lit at dusk as a centerpiece for the first musical show at the Punkin’ Manor. At around 7 p.m., a light show began, featuring synchronized flash effects to recorded music, illuminating the crooked faces of the jack-o’-lanterns. Fog machines laid a thick mist over the lawn to add a haunting effect. Shows ran through the night, each about five minutes long, and continued for Sunday and Monday nights.

“I really liked the lit pumpkins and a lot of the pumpkins were very cool, but the whole show I felt like I was waiting for something to happen,” Rachel Allen, a festival attendee, said, feeling that the Punkin’ Manor light show lacked a true climax.

Other activities at Punkin’ Fest included pumpkin bowling — alleys were laid on the lawn with hay sacks acting as gutters and pumpkins serving as bowling balls — pingpong on pumpkin-shaped tables and pumpkin-shaped swings.

Since its first year, Slapik has seen the festival expand.

“I believe we had 16,000 people say they were going to attend [this year]” Slapik said,

Festivalgoers, including Bill Lin of Malden, found Punkin’ Fest to be the perfect event to round out a weekend for the family

“It’s my niece’s birthday and we were looking for something to do,” Lin said. “It’s really cool. It’s free. To have interactive, old-fashioned family activities is great. It’s simple fun.”

Photo by Ethan Kelly