A group of local women lovingly known as the Witches of South Walton will wake up at the break of dawn on Halloween morning to ride — not broomsticks — but bicycles. And all for a great cause.
On October 31st at 7:00 AM, over 60 “witches” dressed in garb will meet on their festively-decorated bikes at Miss Lucille’s Gossip Parlor in Gulf Place on Scenic Highway 30A to ride 4.4 miles to Butler Elementary and back. Spectators may find a spot along 30A or meet them at the school where they’ll cackle, bewitch and cast their spells on school children and unsuspecting passerby’s.
This treasured local tradition, now in its eighth year, is known as the Annual Witches of South Walton Ride and benefits Children’s Volunteer Health Network.
Immediately following the ride, everyone is invited to join the witches for a brunch and raffle at Grayt Coffee House in Grayton Beach. This is a great photo opp for kids and the entire family. The brunch will include Gouda cheese grits, shrimp, egg casseroles, fruit and pastries for $15. Raffle tickets will be also available for $5 and this year’s raffle includes items from local businesses such as a gift certificate for $110 of hair salon services with Denae Holifield at The Change Salon in Destin; a gift certificate from KB Dahl with Oasis for a facial; and a kayak or YOLO Eco tour for four with Walco Ecotours, valued at $240.
“This foolishness started in 2004 when two of my friends and I rode our bikes along the bike path several times a week for exercise,” said Carol Stafford, the group’s founder. “I jokingly suggested that we wear witch hats on Halloween day. We did, and got lots of attention. Buses and trucks honked their horns and people whistled. Most of all, the school kids, parents and teachers loved it.”
Feeling a little witchy yourself? Well, it’s not too late to become a Witch of South Walton. Interested witches are encouraged to attend the “Witches Brew” on Tuesday, October 30th from 5-7 PM at Great Southern Cafe in Seaside where they may register and pay the entry fee of $15. Witches may also purchase $5 raffle tickets at this time and bring any items they would like to donate for the raffle the following morning.
“Isn’t it amazing what a small group of caring people can do?” said Zach Billingsley, CVHN Executive Director. “Although they may not realize this, each one of them is helping CVHN change lives. Every dollar raised helps more uninsured or underinsured children gain access to the health care they need and deserve.”