More than a month before disturbances spun out of control at Keene State College parties held alongside the Keene Pumpkin Festival, two late-night comedians poked at the normally peaceful event on their respective national shows.
Stephen Colbert alluded to the autumn event during a sketch about police militarization on his show, “The Colbert Report,” in September.
“Keene, N.H. obtained a surplus $286,000 BearCat armored vehicle, which they said they needed. . . since Keene currently hosts several large public functions to include an annual pumpkin festival,” he said, to chuckles from the audience.
“We’re talking about America’s premier pumpkin festival,” he continued. “Need proof? Name another one.”
Colbert mentions Keene, N.H. about 2:15 into this clip:
John Oliver also mentioned the festival alongside the events unfolding Ferguson, Mo. this summer on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” where he bemoaned in August the military arming of local police forces.
“This has happened on such a scale that it’s enabled small towns like Keene, N.H. to apply for a BearCat, a military-grade armored personnel truck, which they needed because as their application argues, ‘The terrorism threat is far reaching and often unforeseen,’ and cited as a possible target, their annual pumpkin festival,” he soliloquized, eliciting laughs from the audience and showing an image of the vehicle. “Good luck out-maneuvering that, teenagers with baseball bats,” he said.
Disturbances in the New Hampshire city erupted from Saturday into Sunday morning after parties at Keene State spiraled out of control. Police in riot gear fired tear gas at hundreds of students throwing bottles and other objects, according to witnesses on the scene.
At least one car and two Dumpsters were overturned, and multiple people were transported to a nearby hospital, officials said.
The college’s president also issued a statement Sunday noting that some students could face expulsion for the incident.