By Rich Pollack
For the first time since it began in 2012, the annual Witches of Delray Witch Ride will be off the Avenue and instead, hundreds of witches will be riding their brooms — also known as bicycles — up and down State Road A1A with an ocean view right before their eyes.
“It’s sisterhood by the sea,” says Andie DeVoe, the longtime leader of a now signature event which raises money for the Achievement Centers for Children and Families. “We have exclusive flight clearance to fly seaside.”
The move to the beach, which will take the witches who gather Oct. 28 at Delray Beach’s Anchor Park at Casuarina Road to George Bush Boulevard and back, will make the ride accessible to more witches than ever before and improve safety. Previously it used only part of A1A and ended at Anchor Park.
A community event that brings together women for a good cause, the Witches Ride started with just 11 riders and has topped out at the maximum 300 for the past couple of years.
Now with the route moved to A1A, the capacity has increased. This year's ride, with 400 witches registered, is already sold out. “It’s fun, it’s creative and it’s a great way to get together with friends,” DeVoe said.
Because the ride is on the seaside road, which will be closed to traffic from 6:30 to 9 a.m., there is no longer a need for rolling roadblocks at heavily traveled intersections such as the one last year that resulted in an injury to a sheriff’s deputy.
“We’re always trying to improve the ride to make it safer,” said DeVoe, better known among Witches Ride loyalists as the Alpha Witch.
This year, witches will gather at the park by 7 a.m. Oct. 28. While the route has changed, many of the happenings and contests will continue.
“The ride may be the main event, but we have other events that bring our community together,” DeVoe said.
One of those events is the Witches Brew, a happy hour from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 20 at Tim Finnegans Irish Pub.
It lets witches show off their costumes, which are often more formal outfits than what they ride in, and offers them a chance to bid on silent auction items and win prizes, including a fully decorated bicycle.
Tickets for the Brew, which includes an appetizer buffet and a signature drink, are $40. A highlight of the evening is the presentation of the Golden Broom, given to only one witch a year for outstanding contributions to the community.
“The Brew is a great place to go to kick off the holiday season with friends,” DeVoe said.
Although the route has changed, the ride will still include many of the contests that bring out riders. They include best broom (bicycle), best cackle, best costume and best group.
Witches will be asked to bring their bikes through a safety check either at the ride or during a pre-flight inspection available at Richwagen’s Bike & Sport.
While the focus of the event is fun, it takes on the serious witch business of raising money for a longtime community nonprofit organization.
Last year’s ride, DeVoe said, raised about $28,000 for the Achievement Centers for Children and Families.
“The Witch Ride is an event that directly gives back and supports our community,” she said.
If You Go
What: Witches of Delray Witch Ride
When: Oct. 28. Witches will gather at Anchor Park by 7 a.m. Takeoff at 8 a.m.
Entrance fee: $75. Limited to 400 participants, the ride sold out by Oct. 2
Where: On A1A from Anchor Park north to George Bush Boulevard and back
Benefits: Achievement Centers for Children and Families
What: Witches Brew Happy Hour with silent auction
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 20
Where: Tim Finnegans Irish Pub, 2885 S. Federal Highway, Delray Beach
Cost: $40. Includes free drink and light bites