Do you love to stand-up paddle board (SUP)? Are you a fan of a great party and a chance to grab a broomstick (or paddle) and dress like a witch with a group of fun-loving, fabulous women? Would you like to support those who live and work on Cape Cod? Now in its third year, Witches on the Water is a new Cape Cod nonprofit dedicated to harnessing the magic and power of local women who care about affecting change in their community and supporting those in need. The Witches on the Water fundraising event is an early October group paddle on Oyster Pond in Chatham, followed by a fantastic party featuring live music, local food trucks, and a chance to win great raffle prizes (including a SUP board). Did I mention that you get to dress like a witch?
How Does Witches on the Water support the Cape Community?
Here are the basics: 1. Dress like a witch, 2. Stand Up Paddle Board, 3. Raise money for local charities. Each year the Witches on the Water Board of Directors choose a beneficiary charity from among the many nonprofits that support Cape Cod residents and their families. We all know that Cape Cod is a beloved tourist destination known for its wild beauty and salty charm. During the summer, Cape Cod’s population swells from about 228,000 to more than 500,000. Towns closer to Boston, such as Sandwich, experience a doubling in population, while towns on the Outer Cape (Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro) see a population increase of nearly 1,000 percent. Many who make their home year-round on Cape Cod work in the tourism and hospitality industry. They own local businesses, cook and serve meals, clean rental properties, and provide lawn, garden, and pool care for seasonal homeowners and summer visitors. Cape Cod is an expensive place to live. Housing costs have soared, and inventory has declined for over a decade. Many residents are struggling to stay afloat. Enter Witches on the Water.
In the fall of 2019, Witches on the Water founders and year-round Cape residents Jo-Ellen Erickson and Susan Price decided to don witch costumes and go for a paddle on Town Cove in Orleans – just for fun and great photos. They invited friends to join, and 14 paddle boarders arrived in full witch regalia to bring cheer to all who witnessed. Pictures hit the local newspapers, curiosity and enthusiasm spread, and inspired the two friends to leverage the excitement to create an annual fundraising event. Witches on the Water was born!
Sidelined by the pandemic in 2020, Witches on the Water held its inaugural event in 2021, raising over $21,000 for the Family Pantry of Cape Cod. Local businesses sponsor the event and donate items for the raffle. Participants pay a $50 registration fee and commit to raising a minimum of $250. Prizes are awarded for the best costume and the most funds raised. The event is free to spectators who are encouraged to enjoy the food and music and purchase raffle tickets.
How Does Witches on the Water Choose the Beneficiary Charity?
The Witches on the Water Board of Directors meet in January to choose the beneficiary charity for the year. Each writes the name of a local nonprofit on a slip of paper and drops them in, you guessed it, a cauldron. A non-board member draws the winner. According to co-founder Susan Price, “It makes it witchy,” “And democratic.” The 2022 beneficiary charity was the Cape Wellness Collaborative, an organization providing support to anyone in the community facing cancer. While this year’s paddle was canceled due to heavy rain, the party went on at the Monomoy Middle School Gym. The witches left their paddles at home but brought their pointy hats and dancing shoes, and the Mike Dumas band had everyone on their feet, despite the weather.
How to Donate, Sponsor, or Register for Next Year’s Paddle
Online donations are accepted year-round at the Witches on the Water website: https://witchesonthewater.org/. The 2023 beneficiary charity will be announced in January, and registration for the 2023 event opens in the spring. If you are a true Cape Cod witch – drawn to the water rather than melting from it- and have a big heart and believe in the magic of kindness and community, be sure to grab your paddle and join Witches on the Water next fall!