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The start of a new tradition in North Liberty

Jack-O-Lanterns put the Ranshaw House in a Halloween spotlight
Forty-five carved and lit pumpkins sit on display, as the snow falls near sunset, in front of the historic Ranshaw House in North Liberty on Wednesday, Oct. 30. Members of the community provided the pumpkins over a two-day period for a unique first-time Halloween event.

NORTH LIBERTY– Inspiration can come in many forms. For Jillian Miller, the community engagement coordinator for the City of North Liberty, a photo on a website inspired her to spearhead a new community activity. The result was a display of pumpkins carved by residents, on display outside the historic Ranshaw House.
“I saw a photo on the Today Show’s website of a house in West Virginia that has 3,000 pumpkins,” Miller said. According to a story by Julie Pennell for today.com, Ric Griffith of Kenova, W. Va., has been going for 20 years and involves volunteers putting their carving skills to work. “It was around an older home, and I kept thinking we don’t ever do enough programming at the Ranshaw House,” Miller said. The house sits mostly vacant, providing storage of tables and chairs for events such as the summer lunch program.
“I want to bring more programming and attention to this historic building in the city, and I thought ‘small town feel,’ why not ask everyone to bring an extra pumpkin they’ve carved, and see how many we can get for a cool display?” she said.
Forty-five pumpkins were delivered for the first-time event. No registration was required, and there was no cost to participate other than acquiring a pumpkin and spending a little time with the knife and the scoop. Risers made of boards and cinder blocks were set up on the north and west sides of the house, and people began dropping off their creations on Monday.
The actual event was set for Wednesday, Oct. 30, between 6 and 8 p.m. with lights placed inside the pumpkins while colored lights inside the house shined through the windows. A handful of people stopped by to see the Jack-O-Lanterns up close and personal, as snow fell and a stiff breeze out of the north-northwest blew during the first hour of the event. “It’s a little weird to see pumpkins with snow on them,” Miller said. The pumpkins were composted by Johnson County Refuse on Friday, Nov. 1.
“It’s good community spirit so we’d love to see it grow in the future,” she added.