Witches will walk again this year, and this time, there might be more gathered than ever.
On Friday, at about 6 p.m., the annual Ballston Spa Witch Walk will take over the town, with witches from the Capital Region, Vermont, New Hampshire and across New York State walking the walk. At its heart, the event is a fundraiser and bar crawl. Started by Carol Lang 13 years ago, it raises money for local animal shelters and foundations.
“It took off,” said Phaedra Zoe Stasyshyn, an organizer of the Witch Walk.
In the first few years, they had around 30 witches, but this year organizers are estimating at least 300. The walk begins at the American Legion and branches out to restaurants and bars like Brickyard Tavern, Henry’s Tavern, Augie’s Family Style Restaurant, Nomad Coffee & Crepes, Whitehouse Restaurant & Bar, The Factory Eatery and Ballston Spa Elks Lodge 2619. Brickyard will hold a witch costume contest at 10:30 p.m. The Factory will also have a photo booth on hand to capture the costumes and the magic of the evening. Should the witches wish to stop by other bars or restaurants that are not on the list they should ask permission from management because the sheer number of witches can be overwhelming for some establishments, said Stasyshyn.
Lang and Stasyshyn have partnered with veterinary groups in Saratoga County and will be distributing any funds raised among them, based on need. In previous years, they’ve raised thousands of dollars for rescues like Mr. Mo Senior Dog Rescue in Clifton Park or the Estherville Animal Shelter. They’ve also donated the funds to low-income senior citizens who have trouble paying veterinary care bills.
Organizers encourage attendees to take creative license with their witch wear.
“Some people start planning what they’re going to wear [the following year] the day after the Witch Walk,” Stasyshyn said.
There’ll be classic witch-looks with black cloaks, pointy hats, bumpy noses, and dark beauty marks. Some will be in ribbons and lace, with dark purples, lime greens, and bright oranges. Others will adorn themselves with cobwebs to really get into the season. Then there’ll be Renaissance-inspired styles; with layered skirts and corsets.
“The only requirements are a wristband and a witch hat,” Stasyshyn said.
Men can also be a part of the event as long as they wear a hat. Some men are dressing up as sorcerers and wizards to join the walk.
Businesses like Coffee Planet will be staying open until 8 p.m. to accommodate the crowd and will be showing Halloween-themed prints by a local artist. Along the walk, witches can also get a reading done at Boho Chic Boutique until 8 p.m.
Witches will set out from the American Legion in waves or groups so as not to overwhelm the town. But before that, a group of them will be performing a dance to Wolfshager Hexenbrut.
The German song, which has a reggae-sounding beat, has become a tradition for the witches since 2016 when the first Wolfshager Hexenbrut video went viral. In it, witches dance to the song around their brooms.
This year, they’ve been holding dance rehearsal sessions nearly every week since September to welcome in new witches and show them the ropes of the dance. At this point, they’ve got around 30 witches who will be involved. That group includes the Happy Hags Dance Troupe, a group of witches from Central New York. They dance to raise money for various organizations.
Besides dancing at the start of the Witch Walk, they’ll all be performing throughout the night. Kiss 102.3 will be there to cover the dance.
While many witches bought tickets online this year, there is still time to register at the door starting at 6:30 p.m. Tickets will be $30.
From 9 p.m. until around midnight, there will be an after-party at the American Legion with live music by the Doug Villano Band.
Following the walk, on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Saha Yoga in Ballston Spa, witches can come and take a recovery yoga class for $15. The proceeds will go to animals shelters and veterinary groups in Saratoga County. Space is limited so it’s recommended that those interested email sahayogaballstonspa.com.
For more information on the Ballston Spa Witch Walk, visit the event on Facebook or email Lang and Stasyshyn at [email protected]