“Mask up, Witches.”
That’s the theme of the third annual Witches Ride, a fundraiser for the Leflore County Humane Society.
The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, masks are encouraged and those attending should practice social distancing.
“The first year it rained but we still had a good turnout for the after party,” said Ashley Farmer, a Leflore County Humane Society board member and a Witches Ride event organizer. “Last year, it was beautiful. We were overwhelmed with how many children were here.”
Farmer, who came up with the idea for the event three years ago, is hoping the Witches Ride will continue to grow.
“I think we had almost 100 riders last year, and it was so fun to see the difference from the first year to the second year,” she said. “People really got into it. They had their brooms dressed up.”
Tish Bowie said there are two good reasons to participate in the Witches Ride. “First of all, it’s for a good cause, and second, because it’s just fun,” she said.
Bowie has been riding in the event for the past two years and is getting ready for this year’s ride.
“I got a new hat that has lights in it. I put the batteries in it last night,” she said Friday.
She said she enjoys the event because, “I love to dress up, and it’s such a simple thing that really makes an impact.”
The event brings out the kid in each of the participants, getting to dress up for Halloween, she said.
Bowie rides a bike, which she decorates differently every year.
Participating in the parade, however, does take some coordination.
“Throwing out candy is a lot harder than it appears,” she said. “To ride your bike, keep your hat on and throw out candy, there has to be a little skill involved.”
The Witches Ride participants will begin their trek at Bowie Realty, cross the Keesler Bridge, and the parade will start on Front Street and then continue onto Howard Street and end at the intersection of Howard and Church streets.
Those who will be in the ride are encouraged to dress up and decorate their bikes — or brooms, rather.
“You can decorate your bike or whatever you’re riding and, of course, dress like a witch,” said Farmer. “Men are welcome, too — witches and warlocks.”
Participants can also create a float or just walk with a team in witch costumes.
The Witches Ride participants are also encouraged to bring candy to throw out during the Witches Ride. Children can line up along the route to gather the sweet treats.
There were so many children at last year’s event that Farmer said she ran out of candy halfway into the parade.
“It was exciting to see,” she said. “Some kids come dressed up.”
Aubrey Whittington, president of the Humane Society’s board, will also return with her golf cart featuring a large spider.
“It looks like a spider coming down the street,” said Farmer.
The event will include a contest for the best-dressed witch and best broom.
An adults-only after party will be held at The Vine Bistro & Grapevine Catering, 222 Howard St., following the ride. The after party will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and will feature drinks and appetizers.
“We’ll have the sidewalk roped off and tables outside so people can keep their distance,” said Farmer.
The after party fee is $20 and includes one drink token.
There’s a $35 fee to participate in the Witches Ride, which also includes entrance to the after party and one drink token and a T-shirt.
The Leflore County Humane Society is currently housing more than 160 animals.
The money raised from this event will go toward their care.
“Just the upkeep, heartworms, spaying and neutering, food, cleaning supplies, there’s always a shortage of all that,” said Farmer. “So this money will go toward the animals.”
The Leflore County Humane Society recently moved from its longtime facility on Ione Street to a new 6,200-square-foot building, located on Cypress Avenue and Baldwin Road.
The new facility offers more space for the animals and central rooms for cleaning and medical care.
Farmer encourages people to visit the shelter, socialize with some of the animals and maybe take one home.
“That’s always great for children to come out and play with the kittens and the puppies,” she said. And it’s good for the animals, too, she added.
The shelter is also in need of towels, bleach, paper towels, heavy duty trash bags, cat litter and kitten food.
For more information on adopting a pet, call 453-8085.
Registration is available up until the day of the event before the ride starts.
For more information about the Witches Ride or to register, call Farmer at 374-6800.
• Contact Ruthie Robison at 581-7235 or email@example.com.