It was no ordinary night at the Jacob Henry Mansion Estate for those taking to the streets of Joliet for the 10th annual Witches Night Out fundraising event.
The two-night event, held Wednesday and Thursday, cast a spell conjuring thousands to enter the gates.
“I can’t believe we’ve been doing this for 10 years for starters, but [also] the fact that we still pack the place,” said Theresa Berkey, co-chairwoman for the Witches Night Out committee. “Last night, we were sold out. Tonight, we’re sold out.”
Magic abounded at Witches Night Out, from the mansion’s ballroom and the courtyard to the gazebo and church. The witches’ bazaar, bars and food, mystic readers and DJs were among the festivities summoning many to the event. Among those whisked into the spirit of the night was Denise Garavaglia of Shorewood. This year was her sixth attending.
“I’m in witch garb every day,” she joked. “My broom is at home. I couldn’t take it today. I had to take an Uber.
Garavaglia said she was motivated to come out for the night to support a good cause.
“It’s for women’s health,” she said. “Everybody’s here having a good time.”
Garavaglia said she and the group she came with try to coordinate outfits every year.
“This is the first year we dressed up all black,” she said. “Usually, we’re in full witch garb.”
Organizers encouraged people to get into the spirit of the night, donning costumes, make-up and accessories. Also brewing at the event was a costume contest.
“The costume contest – I’m not going to lie – is the coolest thing ever,” Berkey said. She turned to reference a group wandering the grounds of the estate, saying they showed up as the zodiac witches.
“They’re all different,” Berkey said. “One’s the lion. There’s the ram. It’s phenomenal.”
Berkey said it’s clear why the community loves the event.
“We do a lot of good with what we can give back,” she said. “Most of these people have been here before because we walk around and we ask. … It’s a great time.”
Berkey co-chaired this year’s costume fundraiser with Judy Erwin.
Through 2018, Witches Night Out has netted more than $330,000 to support agencies serving women and children of Will County, organizers said.
Proceeds will go to Guardian Angel Community Services, Court-Appointed Special Advocates of River Valley, MorningStar Mission Ministries, Stepping Stones Treatment Center and Will County Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build.