The founder of a beloved Dayton Halloween tradition has died

Thousands have visited the annual pumpkin glow on Stoddard Avenue

Credit: Teesha Mcclam

Credit: Teesha Mcclam

The woman who founded a beloved Dayton Halloween tradition has died.

Judith Chaffin, known as the “The Pumpkin Lady,” began the Stoddard Avenue Pumpkin Glow in Dayton’s Grafton Hill neighborhood in 1994.

“We started out with about 36 the first year and people thought it was amazing,” Chaffin said in a 2003 interview with the newspaper. “Each year we’ve added more and more pumpkins.”

What began as an activity for her family grew into a community event.

A sprawling tent was set up in Chaffin’s driveway each year to shelter friends, family and volunteers who came together to gut and carve hundreds of pumpkins.

Chaffin kept her “Pumpkin Carving Society” organized and fed as they worked. “It seems overwhelming but people show up and everyone is having fun, and before you know it, the work is done,” she said.

Chaffin’s creation, combined with teamwork, illuminated a breathtaking scene each year for the community as each pumpkin was set aglow by candlelight on the hillside near the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.

Thousands of visitors have wandered throughout the scene over the years admiring the intricately carved works of art. In 2013, a man popped the question by carving “Will You Marry Me?” in five strategically placed pumpkins.

“The pumpkins are all lit across the street, and I think everyone is amazed about how the pumpkins are carved,” Chaffin said in 2015, the year more than 850 pumpkins were on display.

“Everyone is so thankful and so kind, and it’s just a great thing. When you just go out there and take a look at it, I think it is just beautiful.”

Chaffin died at age 77 on Dec. 21. Visitation will be held Dec. 27 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Grace United Methodist Church, 1001 Harvard Blvd. in Dayton. The service will be at 1 p.m. and interment will follow at Memorial Park Cemetery.

A celebration of Chaffin's life will be held from 3:30-7:30 p.m. at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 500 Belmonte Park N. in Dayton. Memorial donations in memory of Chaffin may be made to The Leukemia And Lymphoma Society. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting

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