Double, double toil and trouble — and a whole lot of fun — are brewing for the 15th annual Coronado Witches’ Tea.
Every October, Coronado local Rebecca Geiss organizes a luncheon outing for women only — dressed head to toe in their best witchy attire — sending them to mysterious locations around Coronado and San Diego.
To say it’s a head-turning event is a definite understatement. Last year, surprised motorists and pedestrians rubbed their eyes as a coven of more than 150 witches crossed Orange Avenue at Adella Avenue to board busses to transport them to places unknown.
The first luncheon was in 2000 for a group of nine women. “We thought it would be fun to take all public transportation somewhere for lunch dressed as witches,” said Geiss. That year, the women took the Old Town Trolley to Dick’s Last Resort in the Gaslamp Quarter downtown, then walked to the Westgate Hotel for 4 p.m. high tea. “They served us a delightful meal and treated us to a bottle of champagne, and we were serenaded by an incredible harpist,” she said. “Several hours later and after much cackling, the nine of us decided it would be an annual event.” Fifteen years later the tradition has grown exponentially; last year 166 witches attended.
With such a large number of women participating, the event has become a complex planning endeavor — and quite the spectacle around town. “We used to just take the trolley wherever we went for lunch, but as the numbers grew I had to be more creative,” said Geiss. To get from place to place throughout the afternoon, the group has taken the ferry, the water taxi, city buses, party buses, a fleet of 60 pedicabs and, one of Geiss’ favorite experiences, carriages drawn by Clydesdale horses.
Witches are aware of the starting and ending locations and times, but what happens for the four or five hours in between is a surprise. The women have lunched at such venues as the Horton Grand Hotel, the University Club, the W Hotel, and the Coronado Island Marriott. At each stop, Geiss works with staff before the event to create customized menu items.
One of Geiss’ favorite moments year after year is at the close of the event. Local band Ron’s Garage greets the women, playing The Eagles’ Witchy Woman. “Just imagine a sea of women in black — all cackling in pointy hats and buckled shoes — arriving while a live band plays that song. I always love that part,” said Geiss. That’s also the point in the day when husbands and kids are invited to rejoin the women. Many of the witches now include mothers and daughters.
“I get asked all the time, ‘when are you going to let some warlocks in?’ but this is really about women getting together and having kooky, crazy fun. It’s about celebrating the spirit and creativity of women.”