You may remember seeing a gaggle of “witches” busting moves at the 2016 Irvington Halloween Festival parade — stopping traffic a couple of times with a slightly spooky song and dance, shaking their brooms, and cackling maniacally — much to the delight of the huge crowd. Irvington Black Hat Society organizer Karin Mullins and the dozens of ladies performing could hear the audience’s appreciation. “We could hear people saying, ‘oh, isn’t that great!’ and loving it, and we kept wondering if they were talking about us!” Mullins said the girls (she always calls them the girls, regardless of age) really got into it. “I honestly don’t know who had more fun that day — us or the crowd!”
The parade was the Irvington Black Hat Society’s second-ever performance after being formed in late summer of 2016; the first being at the Spooky Storytelling event at Irving Circle. There, the girls did a flash mob, appearing out of nowhere to do their thing, much to the delight of the kids and adults gathered. “I got the idea from a video on YouTube I saw of an event in Germany, with these witches dancing. I just thought it was neat, and it was something we could do here in Irvington,” Mullins explained. “I begged and begged all the girls I knew and they saw the video, and we put it together after weeks and weeks of rehearsals. My friend Georgeanna did the choreography . . . and we rehearsed and adjusted to everyone’s abilities. The Circle flash mob was just so much fun . . . and we were in our element.”
Currently, there are about 80 members of the Irvington Black Hat Society, and about 35 active participants. The girls come from the Irvington area, as well as the historic neighborhood — the only requirement is that members must be up for some fun and have some time for rehearsals (an hour or so every week before performances).
Mullins noted that the group selected the music and created their own costumes. “It’s very democratic. We vote on everything.” The girls also help and support each other, plus have fun. Every “witch” has a different look, with some going for the scary side, others going for a gypsy style, or a glam witch look . . . whatever takes their fancy.
The video of their performances went viral on social media, with 19,000 views on Facebook alone. Then the parade video came out, getting even more exposure for the group. What could have been a one-off deal has evolved into a year-round opportunity, with their next big performance slated for the Indianapolis St. Patrick’s Day Festival parade on March 17 from 11:30-3:00 p.m. downtown, where thousands will be on hand. “The costumes will be different,” Mullins said, “going with a woodlands theme, maybe green robes, red wigs, that kind of thing. It will be unique..”
For those who would like to get a sneak peek at what the Black Hat Society will be getting up to at the parade, they are planning a full costume “rehearsal” in front of Coal Yard Coffee House on Bonna Ave. for March 12 at 3 p.m. “We’ll be doing the routine, making adjustments. We’ll see how it works.” Everyone is invited to cheer them on.
In addition, Mullins said the group will be helping out with food distribution to people experiencing homelessness in the fall through The PourHouse, and at a fundraiser for Irvingtonian Heather Eaton, who passed away suddenly this fall. “I tell everyone that they should get involved in their community, to give back, and this is one way to do it,” Mullins stressed.
Ladies interested in joining the Black Hat Society can reach Mullins at email@example.com or through the Irvington Black Hat Society Facebook page.