By Rich Pollack
When the Witches of Delray ride their bikes on Oct. 27, it might be difficult to tell just which witch is which.
That’s in large part because most of the more than 200 — maybe even 300 — witches taking part in the seventh annual Witch Ride for Charity will be dressed in black and purple and wearing pointy hats.
“If you want to be a witch, you just have to have something black,” says Alpha witch Andie DeVoe.
DeVoe, Beta witch Tricia McFadden and several other members of the impromptu coven have been planning this year’s ride — and the Witches Brew Happy Hour fundraiser — for months.
The event began as a rogue ride and is part of a growing trend of similar rides throughout the country. It has become an integral part of the Halloween season in Delray Beach — held in coordination with the Parks and Recreation Department and the Police Department.
“We’ve made it safer, we’ve made it more fun and we’ve made it bigger all because of the community support,” says DeVoe, who is in her fifth year as the lead witch.
This year’s ride will start at 9 a.m. at City Hall and continue along Swinton Avenue, George Bush Boulevard and State Road A1A before ending up at the Delray Beach Green Market in the ark at Old School Square Park.
There, witches will be judged on best broom (bike), best costume, best witch’s cackle and, new this year, best group. Witches are typically free to disband by 11:30 a.m.
The gathering of witches begins at about 7:30 a.m. in the City Hall parking lot. Witches are encouraged to register at witchesofdelray.org, but registrations are accepted on-site. Registration is $25 in advance and $30 at the ride.
“One of the best things is when people start showing up and we see how creatively everybody has decorated their bikes,” says DeVoe. “That just makes this witch go wild.”
Safety is a priority, DeVoe says, and in recent years all witches have been required to have their bikes go through a safety check by the Delray Beach Bicycle Club and Richwagen’s Bike and Sport shop. Delray Beach police escort the witches along the 41/2-mile route.
While the ride is the main event, many witches make their first appearance of the Halloween season during the Witches Brew party, which is set for Oct. 19 at Tim Finnegan’s Irish Pub, 2885 S. Federal Highway in Delray Beach, beginning at 5 p.m.
Like the ride itself, the brew, which includes silent auction items and witches singing karaoke, raises money for the Achievement Centers for Children and Families.
Last year more than $8,000 was raised.
For more about the Witches of Delray, visit the website or find them on Facebook.
The Witches of Delray ride is Oct. 27, with a gathering at City Hall, 100 NW First Ave., at 7:30 a.m. and ride at 9. Entry fee is $25 in advance, $30 the day of the event. witchesofdelray.org.