A ride with the witches

Sherri Gardner HowellFarragut, Kitchen Table Talk, West Knox

I thought I had outlived most of my favorite Halloween traditions. I certainly didn’t think I was young enough to start new ones.

But that is just what I did.

At the invitation of my daughter-in-law, son and grandson in Franklin, I took part in the Franklin Witches Ride last Sunday. It is an event that started with 15 or so women dressed up like witches, riding bikes made up like brooms through the neighborhood of Westhaven.

Our decorated golf cart with a Pumpkin King and the Witches theme

Now in year four, there were more than 150 witches on bikes, Monster Machines (golf carts) and walking through the neighborhood. Children stood on the streets and sidewalks to collect candy being tossed. A party followed at the Residents’ Club to celebrate the ride’s success.

The goal was to raise $25,000 for the American Cancer Society. Last count had the ride topping $28,000.

It has been years since I rode in a parade. I think my last one was back in “the day” when the Farragut Jaycees participated in the Knoxville Jaycee’s Christmas Parade. I have to tell you that this was the most fun I have had in quite a while!

Grandson King and I tossed candy while Queen Witch Kinsey drove the golf cart and also did some candy tossing. King and I were a little liberal with our tosses, and we ran out with about a fourth of the route still to go. Most of the kids were pretty savvy, however. The front of the ride route was heavily loaded with kiddies and, from the look of the buckets and loot bags, even those at the end had quite a haul.

Getting ready to ride

This new tradition may not top the Toilet Paper Teepee/Haunted House rides of the 1970s, but it is certainly more legal. Halloween of my childhood was a traditional affair of shaking down all the neighbors and relatives for enough candy to last the rest of the year – even though it didn’t. When my “too old to trick-or-treat” time rolled around, we jumped in David Hinson’s car and rolled the houses of beloved teachers and, occasionally, a not-so-loved principal with toilet paper.

The only difference was whether we showed up the next day to do clean-up. If we couldn’t find enough houses to sneak through the dark to do our teepee-ing, we rolled our own. Not mine, however. The white pine trees in the front yard even challenged the skills of the starting basketball and baseball players in our group.

We always thought our handiwork looked beautiful, especially if one or more of us had scored some pink or green toilet paper.

When my children were small, Scary Sherri’s Pre-Trick-or-Treating Halloween gathering filled the gap. As young parents in the neighborhood, we didn’t have the common sense to ration how much candy our kids could eat on Halloween (like those same children now do with their kids), but we did feel they should “eat something” before heading out to fill their bags and pumpkins.

So, before they took off, the neighborhood “troop” gathered at our house for mini-pizzas, spooky sandwiches and juice. That also allowed us to get pictures with minimum grumping. The dads took off with each group while moms went to their houses to answer doorbells. After it was over, there were spooky stories and more treats at Scary Sherri’s.

I have missed those days when we almost always ran out of candy, no matter how much we increased our purchase each year. Our neighborhood has grown up, too, and those lucky trick-or-treaters who live here now tend to get hands-full of candy at the houses they visit.

My intention was to stay in Franklin through Halloween, but plans had to change, so I will be home this year. I have a renewed spirit, however, thanks to the Witches Ride.

I think I may wear my witch hat and answer the door with a cackle. But don’t worry about your yards. My toilet paper teepee-ing days are done.

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