Alonna Hughes has loved Halloween since she was a kid.
“Growing up our school always had the Halloween carnival, and that was something “to get to do.” I loved dressing up for Halloween parties and trick or treating and visiting all of our neighbors,” she said. “We could always count on Ms. Bernice to make popcorn balls and Ms. Zula made homemade fudge.”
It’s those fond memories of wonderful Halloween times that make Hughes look forward to the October holiday each year.
“Plus it gives me chance to still be a kid,” she said.
It was a weekend trip back home to Jackson County from her home near Montgomery 20 years ago that truly sparked her creative imagination and began an All Hallows Eve tradition.
I was up visiting one weekend and went to a yard sale,” she said. “She had tons of prom dresses for sale and I thought, ‘wow, how many witches can I make with all of these?’ I bought way too many and took them home and that is how it started.”
Hughes made five witches that year with her prom dresses and hasn’t stop making them since.
“We lived in a neighborhood down there where we had tons of trick or treaters,” she said. “Our street was packed with kids and everyone stopped in our yard to take pictures.”
Hughes creates all of her witches herself.
“I will lay awake at night thinking about it and ideas just pop in my head,” she said. “I have to write it down or do a quick sketch so I don’t forget. Now every year around August I start Googling ‘Halloween yards.’ I will see things I like and screenshot pictures to use as inspiration to create my own.”
These days the witches aren’t sporting their prom dresses. They have changed to more traditional witch attire and three stand together around a cauldron.
“Pricilla has a green dress this year and I changed her hair to red,” Hughes said. “She is the oldest of my witches and has been with me for 20 years. She reads the book of spells and stands center behind the cauldron to cast her spells.”
Hughes had to retire one of her witches recently.
“I felt like she actually had feelings, so I replaced her with Hagitha,” Hughes said. “She has a gray face, and she is old and ugly. She lives in the woods and comes out at Halloween. She covers her head with a plaid shawl and stares into the cauldron.”
The last witch around the cauldron is Helga, who has also been with Hughes for 20 years.
“She and Pricilla both have newly decorated hats. She is dressed in black and white and walks with a cane.”
Gertrude, or Gurdy for short, sits on a tree stump to greet the trick or treaters.
“This year I have a smaller witch who has joined her,” Hughes said. “Leaning against the tree is a skeleton named Henry and his cat.”
Hughes’s woodland witch stands alone.
“She has a feathered head,” Hughes said. “I glued each of the feathers in one by one, but they are actually black leaves hat I tore apart. Her face is completely homemade, made using clay. I hand painted her face and named her Victoria.”
Another witch is new this year. Her name is Babeth.
“She has long black hair and likes long walks in the woods. Her face isn’t meant to be seen, so that she can be left to the imagination. I imagine her being beautiful, but I hope people can imagine whatever they like,” Hughes said.
Hughes’ has spent weeks working on her yard on Winn Road once again this year and it is filled with witches and other mysterious creatures for passersby to enjoy. She will be handing out candy Halloween night and invites anyone interested to come by and visit her witches and take photos if they please.
“All I ask is that people use our driveway to circle and turn around,” she said. “Winn Road is a busy road and I want the kiddies to be safe.”
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