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Volunteers work to place and light more than 600 pumpkins along the covered bridge and on river rocks for Littleton's 2nd Annual Gathering of the Jack-O-Lanterns on Sunday. (KRISTI GAROFOLO PHOTO)

Harvest Festival full of treats in Littleton

LITTLETON — There were plenty of treats at the first Harvest Festival in Littleton over the weekend.

Activities were organized by the Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce and included the Littleton Police Department's Halloween Festival with a pumpkin-carving contest for kids, and trick-or-treating at Main Street businesses.

There were also Old Home Day games and activities in Remick Park, a chili cook-off sponsored by the Littleton Co-Op, and a movie night at the Littleton Opera House.

During Saturday's trick-or-treating, Peanut Bradley (aka &#';Bat Dog&#';) rested on a Main Street sidewalk, soaking up sunshine and plenty of admiring comments.

&#';My dog has a better costume than I ever did,&#'; joked his owner, Jessica Bradley of Deerfield.

Bradley was in Littleton to visit friends Mason and Peter Smith. The three enjoyed the morning pumpkin carving and other police department events before trick-or-treating.

&#';The costumes, the weather, the people — this is great,&#'; Bradley said.

Rochelle Eastman dressed as a game of Twister, complete with a spinner hat. She joined hundreds of youngsters to gather treats from businesses on Main Street.

&#';Events like this are really good,&#'; her father Greg Eastman said. &#';The chamber's really working on things like this, and it's a beautiful day for it.&#';

Main Street businessman Bill Briggs and his wife, Susie, own Sterling Works, a sterling silver jewelry store. They offered candy for the kids along with treats and hot cider for adults.

Briggs said by early afternoon he'd already seen more than 300 kids.

&#';This was a great idea,&#'; he said. &#';It's supposed to be rainy and cold on Tuesday so it's nice, especially for the little ones, that they could come out on a great balmy day like this.&#';

He said many mothers of trick-or-treaters commented they didn't even know the store was there before and plan to return for Christmas shopping.

&#';An event like this helps visibility,&#'; he said.

On Sunday the finale of the festival was the Gathering of the jack-o'-lanterns along the Ammonoosuc River.

Dave Harkless of Littleton Bike & Fitness started the Gathering with 300 pumpkins last year, not realizing how popular it was going to be.

&#';The great thing is that after last year the chamber got involved,&#'; Harkless said. &#';They said 'that was great for spur of the moment, how about we do it as an event?' and they added all the other activities.&#';

Harkless and volunteer Scott Graham waded the river to find the perfect perches for the jack o' lanterns. Pumpkins were tossed to them or passed from the shore through a &#';pumpkin pipeline&#'; of volunteers.

Connie Wilson and her grandsons watched the operation from the shore.

&#';This was great last year,&#'; she said. &#';Dave puts his heart and soul into it.&#';

By sundown more than 600 jack-o'-lanterns lined the sidewalks, glowing among the river rocks and lighting up the covered bridge.

A roughly equal number of humans explored the Gathering and the Haunted Riverwalk of zombies, vampires, and ghosts accompanied by eerie pipe organ music.

Organizers said the jack-o'-lanterns will be on display until Halloween, as weather permits.


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