By Paige Nash
Living Word of Minden Pastor Trey Waller voiced his concern over the upcoming Witches Ride of Minden at the Ministers’ Breakfast held last week at Minden Community House.
“I just wanted to get a feel for what you guys think about the Witches Ride coming up. It is a concern for me. I do not know how to address this really,” said Waller. “It is one of those things, I have not said a word on Facebook or haven’t put a thing from our church, but personally I do not like it. I do not like it at all.”
Waller questioned Mayor Nick Cox on who gives permission and grants approval for events that are happening within the city.
Cox explained that this is a private event. The event is being hosted by a new local non-profit made up of women – Pearls of Purpose, to build community comradery and support a local charity, “We’re Here, We Care” and Miller Quarters Park.
Those who are wanting to participate can purchase tickets to ride a bike, golf cart or side-by-side down Minden Main Street dressed in a witch costume. Spectators are welcome. The ride is going to end at Millers Quarters Park with a block party.
Cox said, “Me personally, I feel somewhat indifferent about this particular thing. There are a lot of things happening in our city, from my perspective, that concern me, and this is kind of low on that list for me. That is me and my walk with the Lord personally.”
According to sec. 86-11 of the City of Minden codes, parade permits are issued by the chief of police, but both the mayor and chief must sign off on it.
Minden Police Chief Jared McIver looks at this parade as any other.
“We are here to offer safety to the people in the parade, as well as the people watching,” he said. “Also, I don’t really see this as a ‘Witches Ride’ but more of a ‘Costume Ride.’ We don’t expect this to bring in any persons who will be evil or detrimental to our community.”
Waller believes the group of women hosting the event mean well and are excited to raise money for a good cause, but that “promoting witchcraft” is not the best way to do it.
“They are wonderful ladies that mean well, but witchcraft has no place, in my opinion has a pastor, has no place on my property,” said Waller. “I just wanted to get a feel for what you guys think, the leaders in our community and spiritual leaders, because I know what my God hates.”
But according to event organizer Sarah Watson Overall, this event should be regarded with the same mentality as a fall festival or trunk or treat Halloween event.
She said, “The idea that this event is affiliated with witchcraft or promoting anything affiliated with witchcraft is completely false. That idea is a misguided and unrealistic perception.”
This type of event did not originate in Minden, but was begun by a group of women in Seaside, Florida. Since then, numerous cities across the southeast have hosted a Witches Ride within their neighborhoods or downtown areas for several years.
Overall has been surprised by the adverse response that this event has received. She has reached out to numerous other groups who have held this event within their communities and none have received the type of backlash as this one.
“It is disheartening to know that people in ‘the friendliest city in the south’ could be so hateful over something they have misinterpreted and don’t like,” said Overall.
Many of the ministers in attendance at the breakfast made a verbal commitment to meet in a group to pray at the time of the event that is set to take place October 19, including Greater Saint Paul Baptist Church’s pastor, Royal Scott, Jr.
He said, “I will meet with you whenever you want. We know when this activity is going to take place and we can just come together and say that before you start marching in, we are going to start praying. Through the power and unity of our prayer I think this will be the last year if we pray about it. I think this will be the last year that it will take place.”
Others suggested not waiting until the day of the event, but to be proactive and begin praying now to prevent it from happening at all.
But Overall welcomes the prayers.
She said, “We, as Christian ladies, appreciate and accept all prayers for our event.”