As soon as I pulled up a chair at the sushi bar early last week, I was greeted with warm smiles from the couple to my right. Melissa introduced herself and her husband James and said she followed my blog. She said she used to live in Coronado, but they now live in Florida. She was out visiting her mom for the month and James had just arrived to visit for a few days. After we chatted a bit, she reached under the bar and pulled a new purse out of a bag. With the flip of a switch, the stuffed rat sewn to the outside of the purse started flashing its red eyes and shrieking creepy rat noises. When she was finally able to shut it up, she explained the rat purse would accessorize her witch costume for Saturday’s annual Witches’ Tea.
Raven hair and ruby lips
sparks fly from her finger tips
Echoed voices in the night
she’s a restless spirit on an endless flight
wooo hooo witchy woman
see how high she flies
woo hoo witchy woman
she got the moon in her eye…
I didn’t know about the Witches’ Tea, but I knew I did not want to be a pirate for the third year in a row. Most of my friends were going to the Hotel Del’s Hallo-Wine & Spirits Party, but I didn’t have a ticket. Melissa suggested I join the witch party and offered to hook me up with the head witch.
I exchanged e-mails the following day with Rebecca and learned how the Witches’ Tea began 14 years ago with a group of 10 women who dressed up as witches and went out to celebrate Rebecca’s October birthday. The tradition continued, with more and more witches joining in each year. Close to 120 witches were reserved for this year. She explained no one knows the route, mode of transportation, stops or lunch venue; they all just trust her! Over the years, the witches have been transported by city bus, trolley, ferry, party bus, water taxi, pedicabs, and wagons pulled by Clydesdales. Ron’s Garage, a local band, has adopted the witches and greets them on the Hotel Del Coronado sun deck at the end of the broom ride with an hour of dancing. Curious family and friends migrate to the Del to ooh and aahhhhhh over the sea of witches in colorful hats and capes, painted faces and striped tights.
I was able to find my witch hat from about five years ago and paired it with a black dress, faux fur coat, boots and jewelry for a last-minute witch costume.
Our instructions were to meet at 11:00 a.m. sharp, in front of the Brigantine.
I was so impressed with all the creative witch costumes!
Cauldrons filled with jello shots were passed around as the witches arrived and filled the entire courtyard on the corner of Orange and Adella.
I was happy to see my friend Kellee, but recognized many faces from around town. The energy was high and I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for us. I slurped down a few pumpkin jello shots and was ready to roll. Kellee looked gorgeous in her long eyelashes, hot pink dress and purple hat!
We crossed Orange and made our way to the two double decker buses waiting for us in front of the Del. We stopped traffic and smiled for photos every step of the way.
We were soon all aboard for the first leg of our journey, flying over the bridge to Bub’s @ The Ballpark.
Here’s Melissa in her rat hat, rummaging for something in her screeching rat purse
Glinda was hilarious throughout the day, chasing after cars and spanking pedestrians with her wand. Timing was perfect for her to snatch up Toto as he walked past Bub’s.
I was having the time of my life just photographing witches!
…she got the moon in her eye
After socializing and entertaining the regulars at Bub’s, we hopped on our brooms, boarded the buses again, and flew off to our second stop – the sky-level University Club Atop Symphony Towers, on the 34th floor of one of San Diego’s tallest buildings.
We sat around tables of 10, beautifully adorned with Halloween centerpieces and candy jars, for a special Eat, Drink and Be Scary menu of butternut squash soup, arugula and bloody beet salad, chicken salad sandwich, and pumpkin cookies for dessert.
Witchy MC and Head Witch Becky (in the orange hat) welcomed all the returning and virgin witches, and we applauded the youngest and oldest witches in the group.
The youngest 20-something witch
Since the event is officially called The Witches’ Tea, some witches actually enjoyed a spot of tea.
Brooms and Bling!
…she’s a restless spirit on an endless flight
…Raven hair and ruby lips
sparks fly from her finger tips
…wooo hooo witchy woman
The centerpieces were auctioned off and the money will be used to help fund next year’s surprises.
After lunch, we were back on the party buses and headed over the bridge to the Hotel Del’s sun deck for dancing to Ron’s Garage.
Warlocks and children greeted wives and mommy witches.
As the sun slipped into the ocean and the afternoon came to an end, all the smiling and dancing witches hopped on their brooms and flew home.
This is another Coronado tradition I will look forward to next year!
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