Witch paddle
The first annual witch paddle in the Brightwaters Canal was a big hit. Witches from across south Islip congregated to cast a spell on the residents of the village on Saturday morning… and maybe a hex or two on the nearby Pumpkin Runners.

IB/Waszynski

Witch paddle

Story By: RANDALL WASZYNSKI
10/31/2019


A witch’s hat, black threads, a paddleboard and a paddle. These were the essential materials for the 16 local witches who paddled down Brightwaters Canal on Saturday morning. The coven gathered at Gilbert Park at 9 a.m. and began their voyage around the park into the canal. They were accompanied by a Grim Reaper, veiled and mute.

The witch paddle overlapped with the Pumpkin Run, in which the route included the canal-abutting Concourse East. Several runners managed to take a breather and record a video or two of the 16 accounts of sorcery in broad daylight. Residents whose homes overlook the canal stood on their front lawns to witness the cauldron stirrers in this atypical arrangement.

Even a docked boat in the canal stuck around to cheer them on as they paddled up toward Main Street. Mary Louise Cohen, one of the witches and the organizer of the first annual witch paddle on Brightwaters Canal, said they embraced the built-in audience. Cohen said she reached out to other paddling groups she knew about in Oakdale and Islip hamlets.

Mayor of the Village of Brightwaters John Valdini opened Gilbert Park for parking for the event. Witches and spectators were able to park on the grass on the inside of the gate at the end of Concourse East.

Cohen mentioned that since there is no floating dock on the canal, the coven had to enter the water at the park’s beach and paddle on their knees around the park into the canal.

“The canal is very protected,” she said, in reference to the roughness or choppiness of the water, considering the late October date. “For the rest of the bay, you just never know. It’s cold out, and you don’t really want to fall in.”

The weather cooperated with the event, as there were few clouds in the sky with a not-so-bad breeze. The sun reflected off the water as a crowd of passersby congregated near the benches at the end of the canal.