Haunting of Coupeville is practically magic

— Created October 12, 2021 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

Scarecrows and witches and pumpkins? Oh yes! Parades and magic and graveyards? You bet!

We could go on but suffice it to say the Haunting of Coupeville is now underway, bringing all kinds of spectacularly spooky fun to the historic central Whidbey community all month long. Fans of the Haunting will once more be able to don their costumes and march down the street in the Halloween Torchlight Parade or perhaps take in a screening of the classic movie “Practical Magic,” which serves as the inspiration for this year’s Haunting theme, “It’s Practically Magic.”

“The film ‘Practical Magic’ was released in 1998 and we have had a certain fascination and passion for it since then,” said Vickie Chambers, former executive director of the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association, who is assisting with Haunting events this year. “It changed our town, put us on the map, so to speak. We’ve talked about doing something like this for a while.”

Those familiar with the film, which starred Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as Sally and Gillian Owens – sisters, as well as witches – know the small town scenes were filmed in Coupeville. After 23 years, people are still drawn to the picturesque town because of the movie.

“You would be amazed at the number of people who come into the chamber asking about it,” said Lynda Eccles, executive director of the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce. “We have a walking tour guide of what businesses were used, etc. In fact, I was just closing the doors [the other day] and three ladies came in and said, ‘You have ‘Practical Magic’ things in here, right?’ We actually have a lot of things from the movie, such as the bottles that were in the apothecary, etc.”

There will be three chances to see the film which inspired this year’s Haunting – two viewings for those 21 and older will be held Saturday, Oct. 23 and 30 and there will be a family-friendly viewing Friday, Oct. 29.

“The movie is PG-13, so we wanted a family-friendly evening, which will have everything we will have at the other showings, except alcohol,” Chambers explained. “For the other two showings, we wanted to create some energy from the movie, which included margaritas, so we will have margaritas, beer, wine, soda and water. We’re going to have trivia at all nights, and on the 30th we’re doing a look-alike contest. We’re hoping people will really take a look at the characters, because they’re not really out-and-out witches. We’d love for folks to pull out their finest costumes – that’ll be interesting.”

The screenings are free, although donations would be greatly appreciated. Beverages will be available for purchase. Masks will be required and organizers hope to arrange chairs in groups for families. Doors open at 6 p.m. for each screening, which will be held at the Coupeville Rec Hall, 901 NW Alexander Street.

There are some very familiar Haunting of Coupeville elements scheduled this year. For example, the Scarey Crow Trail features about 20 entrants and “Practical Magic” is the suggested theme. Maps are available at the Coupeville Chamber or at the Coupeville Sno-Isle Library. People are encouraged to vote for their favorite scarecrow.

The Weary Bones Rest Stop Graveyard has magically reappeared again, but visitors to the cemetery are advised to tread carefully among the tombstones so as not to disturb its residents. The graveyard is open daily.

A big feature that will be back to “normal” this year is the Halloween Torchlight Parade, which will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30.

“Last year we did a car parade. This year we’re planning a walking parade,” said Chambers. “All of this is kind of a moving target [because of COVID], so as we get closer, things may change. But we’re moving forward in positive energy and if needed, we’ll change the format to make it responsible.”

“I love the parade,” said Eccles. “The children’s faces, their delight in showing off their costumes, and even parents showing off their costumes. I love to see families enjoying themselves, and people just enjoying Coupeville.”

Also back is the traditional pumpkin race, which is set to get rolling Saturday, Oct. 30, from 2 to 4 p.m.

“That’s a fun one,” Chambers said. “People can go online and register or just show up with a pumpkin on two axles. That’s a hoot. It’s as much a sport for spectators as it is for someone with a pumpkin in the race.”

There are plenty of new activities to look forward to as well, such as a Scavenger Hunt, to be held consecutive Saturdays, Oct. 23 and Oct. 30, from 1 to 4 p.m. This is a children’s activity, but everyone can participate. Tickets can be purchased for $10, which gets participants either a plain black witch’s hat or a plain black cape. By the time participants finish the hunt, their hat or cape will be fully decorated with things like feathers, glitter, spiders and more.

Another new event this year is the Spells and Brew Ride, hosted by the Whidbey Island Bike Club. The ride is scheduled to start from the Coupeville Elementary School parking lot, 6 S Main Street, at 10 a.m. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. It is a seven-mile minimum ride, with an additional 20-mile loop for added miles. Cost is $10 to participate and riders get a free beverage at the brew garden at the end of the ride.

“The ride ends up coming up Front Street, depicting the bike ride through town like in the movie,” described Chambers.

After the past year-and-a-half, organizers say it’s time for people to come out and enjoy a bit of scary fun.

“I look forward to just seeing the enjoyment,” Eccles said. “People have something to enjoy this year and that’s really what we want. We’ve gone through so much – we still are – so if we can just give them a day here or a weekend where they can smile and have fun, that for me is worth everything.”

“The Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association works hard to maintain and create energy in the district,” Chambers said. “With this past year, we wanted both businesses and residents to know we’re still thinking of them. This creates the opportunity to walk downtown, see what’s going on and remember how cool Coupeville is. It was cool enough they did a whole movie on it; we have to celebrate that.”

A complete list of Haunting of Coupeville activities is available at hauntingofcoupeville.com and more information on the pumpkin race and parade can be found online at coupevillehistoricwaterfront.com. A limited number of commemorative T-shirts is also being sold. Those interested may order them online or call the Coupeville Chamber from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 360-678-5434.