Witches cackling over tea and zombies roaming the streets may sound like something out of a horror movie, but that was the scene on Ogden’s Historic 25th Street on Saturday.
The annual Witchstock celebration teamed up with the Ogden Zombie Crawl for the second year, filling downtown Ogden with herds of ghastly creatures just in time for Halloween.
Witchstock started with a costumed witches’ tea party, with ticket proceeds going to the Jr. Junior League of Ogden, a branch of the volunteer Junior League for girls ages 10-16.
Rebecca Macias, Jr. Junior League chair, said that the Witches Tea is the sole fundraising event for the Jr. Junior League, and the proceeds pay for resources and for the girls to participate in community projects and events.
“For us to be involved, we offered to serve the food,” Macias said. “We thought, what a great opportunity for our young girls to participate, and, also, we gave them training about food service and food handling.”
A sea of witch hats filled the Ogden Amphitheater as witch-garbed women gathered after tea to compete for best costume and best cackle.
“It took probably about an hour and half to get ready, but it took me probably 80 hours to do my hat and my outfit,” said Cori Murray, a costumed witch attending tea. “It’s just something I do with my mom and my aunts and my cousin.”
Several of those attending Witchstock were searching for a Halloween activity that they could enjoy closer to home.
“We do Witchapalooza down in Gardner Village,” Karen Johnson said. “We’ve done that for five years now, so we’re excited Ogden started doing something.”
The Witchstock festival was conceived and founded in 2010 by Historic 25th Street Association Executive Director Carolyn Brierley and members of her Red Hat Society, who wanted to bring a witch experience to Ogden.
“It’s evolved,” Brierley said. “The first year, I think we had about 30; last year, we had 156; and this year, we sold out—258 this year.”
Immediately following Witchstock, hundreds of zombie-clad men, women and children lined up just outside the gates of the amphitheater for the annual Zombie Crawl, a charity event to collect food and clothing items for the Lantern House homeless shelter.
“I like dressing up as a zombie and all of the make-up,” said 14-year-old Laila Canelas, a third-year Zombie Crawl participant. “It’s the main thing I do for Halloween.”
The Zombie Crawl, now in its fifth year, started as a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Tyler Deamer, who goes by the zombie name Subject Zero, initially organized the event as a celebration after his brother-in-law survived leukemia.
“Every year since then, we’ve done a food drive, a clothing drive and we donate everything to the Lantern House,” Deamer said. “It’s supporting our local homeless shelter, it’s supporting our local business and it’s doing an event where we can spread our wings and keep it local.”
Other non-profit charity groups such as The Umbrella Corporation-Utah Hive were on hand to police the zombie outbreak. The Utah Hive participates in zombie cosplay and raises money for the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund.
After the Zombie Crawl, witches, zombies and zombie hunters gathered back at the Ogden Amphitheater for a Monster Bash dance party to end the night.