Leaving their well-used brooms at home, more than 150 “witches,” their friends and family members made their way to the Murrells Inlet Marsh Walk on Saturday for the 10th annual Grand Strand Witches’ Night.
“It’s been an exhausting week,” said Lisa Murphy of Myrtle Beach. “I love Halloween, love Witches’ Night. Usually I decorate my house for the holiday, but I’ve been working so hard, I haven’t had time yet. Maybe this week.”
Murphy, who cleans homes and condos for a living, said Hurricane Matthew put a serious dent in her free time this month. But it didn’t stop her from dressing up and making up for the event.
“This is the first chance I’ve had to celebrate,” she said. She grabbed the opportunity to paint part of her her face white, blot on blue lipstick and garb her scepter.
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Witches’ Night is the brainchild of four friends who 10 years ago donned witches hats and other Halloween-related fashions and gathered on the Marsh Walk around the holiday to eat, drink and be merry. As the group expanded – friends told friends who told others, while still others saw the hats and joined the women – so did the focus.
Last year, for the first time, the women decided to raise money for a nonprofit that helps women and children. The organizers got agreements from Marsh Walk restaurants to offer discounts to people who purchased wrist bands and koozies, collected donations for a raffle and amassed $3.371.48 for Help4Kids.
This year, the beneficiary is the Children’s Recovery Center, which helps abused children.
“Amanda [Hynes] called me out of the blue and said that they had chosen the center as their beneficiary this year,” said Louise Carson, the director of the center at Legion Street in Myrtle Beach, sporting a black Jersey Girl shirt with a lime green witch outline.
Hynes, a doula, is one of the event organizers. She and her husband, John, were busy selling wrist bands, koozies and raffle tickets from a spot near the Tuna Shak, the outdoor bar area at the Wicked Tuna. They were joined by the other organizers – Ashley-Florence Shelley, Lindsey Young Brown and Gierdre Kripaite Watkins.
“We’re a little behind this year,” Hynes said, citing the effect of Hurricane Matthew, which just a week earlier had left the spot where she was standing under a foot of water and forced the cancellation of a pre-event ticket sale. In fact, it wasn’t until Wednesday that the group got the go-ahead for the event.
The post on the group’s Facebook page brought out people such as Skye Marsico and his wife, Mandy, who recently relocated from Virginia.
“We like the community and love supporting others,” he said. “This let us do both things.”
Witches Night gave Nalani Meade, 10, a second chance to wear her costume from a performance of “The Wizard of Oz.” She portrayed the Wicked Witch of the West, so her black dress and black hat fit right in with the attire of the other witches.
Nalani even had the witch’s lines down: “And your little dog too,” she cackled. But then she smiled to show it was all an act.
“It’s for a great cause,” said Sandy Martin from her perch inside the Tuna Shak, where she was animatedly talking with friends.
“Plus, we get to celebrate the fact that the Marsh Walk is back,” chimed in her friend Janet Kelly.