By Herb Meeker
News Report Staff
Years from now, Kristy Ungrund might be asked how she got engaged.
She might tell how it involved “black magic” from her boyfriend, Todd Thoele, during the 2017 Teutopolis Witches Walk.
On Friday night, Thoele dressed up as a tall ghoul in black with glowing red eyes to surprise Ungrund, who donned a tall curved Witch’s hat, red cape and clothing that might have been worn in Salem, Massachusetts, more than 400 years ago. They were among the many witches walking the circuit between the Teutopolis Hall and different village taverns.
“He was handing out rings shaped like spiders. I asked him if I could have one and he handed me a little box. When I opened it, I saw a bright shiny ring,” Ungrund said.
Fortunately, Ungrund accepted the proposal and didn’t cast a spell on Thoele for shocking her.
Ungrund was among 510 witches participating in the Teutopolis Witches Walk, a fundraiser for Community Support Services in Teutopolis. This was the second year for the event and organizers are impressed with how the Walk is taking off faster than a witch flying on a broom with a tornado providing a tailwind.
“We had 390 last year and that was our first one. As we were selling tickets, we thought we’d be close to 500. We thought ‘Wow! This is really taking off,’” said Roxy Apke of the Witches Walk Coven, errrr, make that committee.
The Witches Walk collects registration fees from all the witches and works with community sponsors. The local taverns that serve the ladies that night also share some of their proceeds for the cause to help CSS in its efforts to help people with special needs.
The event starts out before sundown at the Teutopolis Hall, formerly the Knights of Columbus building, and then the witches walk about the community for some socializing. For a few hours, it seems Teutopolis has been invaded by witches hoofing it downtown.
“Why is it so popular? As women, we all kind of like to dress up and have some fun,” said Apke.
Cathy Funneman was excited before the Walk because she was going to be joined by her adult daughters — Amy Thoele, Stephanie Hemmen, Jessica Zumbahlen, Rachel Sandschaefer and Lyndsey Funneman. Two other daughters had previous commitments on Friday.
“This is the first year we’re going to do it so we’re excited. Rachel came up with the idea that we do it together,” Cathy said. “It’s raising money that goes back to the community. And you can have fun, too.”
When they arrived shortly before the Walk, the mother and her daughters were donning little girl witch hats and long striped socks in different hues.
The Witches Walk provides an opportunity to reveal different personalities. Some of the women were dressed as classic witches in all black with tall hats. Others were dressed in white or red. There were some Gilda’s in bright white gowns inspired by the “Wizard of Oz.” Some dedicated ones had decorated huge hats, festooned with flowers, feathers and even glowing lights.
There were contests for the best hats, top costumes and best group of witches. Roch Westendorf dressed up as Beetlejuice to announce for the contests. Other men, including some husbands of participants, joined in the fun as volunteers to help with different tasks or the games.
“Having it outside really helped. And we had wonderful weather that night,” Apke said.
So far, the Walk has collected $9,000 with more donations expected to come in this week, Apke said. After expenses are paid on promotion, decorations and other needs, the donation should be very generous to CSS, she said.
And what about next year?
Apke said it the original thought in 2016 was this idea might work for two years, but the plan is to conjure up another Witches Walk in 2018.
“It’s gaining momentum,” Apke said.
Funneman said more of her family might join in next year.
“I’m hoping we’ll all get to do it next year, including the other two daughters. And we might add some granddaughters who are in college,” she said with a cackle, errrr, laugh.