The Real Witch Wives of Grosse Ile

October 22nd, 2020

Host: Ben Fogt

With Jenna Jones

2020, Ben Fogt

What's the Deal, Grosse Ile?


[0:00][Ben] Thank you for tuning in to What's the Deal, Grosse Ile? where I explore the people and things that make Grosse Ile unique. I'm Ben Fogt. We're approaching Halloween and the pod is turning toward the spooky and odd. I'll leave it to you to decide which is witch. This week I'm talking with Jenna Jones. Jenna leads the Real Witch Wives of Grosse Ile. They are very entertaining part of the Grosse Ile Halloween Parade. It's great to talk with you Jenna.

[Jenna Jones] Thank you. Thanks for having me. This has been a really good morning so far. We got to talk a little bit, off mike of course, and I'm really excited to get talking about all this. So thank you for having me.

[B] To start off I want to tell you that when I first saw the Witch Wives in the Halloween parade maybe two years ago, it was just it was the best. It was really unexpected and a lot of fun and it's really become a special part of fall on the island. Can you tell us a little bit about the purpose the group and what people should expect when they go to the parade?

[J] Absolutely so there was never intentionally going to be this real witch wise of gross sale there was no real purpose or meaning behind it because it just sort of came out of thin air. So Shelley Schmidtke, who is an island resident, saw a video on Facebook. A bunch of witches in Germany dressed up for Halloween and doing this dance and so we'll have to link that I'll link that in the in the stuff.

[1:21] It's a really unique dance and we have since metal modified it a little bit so it was able to be made for marching down Macomb Street. But she put the video on Facebook just to see what her friends thought of the video. It really picked up some steam so they came up with this secret plan to come up with a dance for the parade and so they would practice late into the night, Over and over again, until they all got this dance down. Like I said they had modified it for the parade and then came up with this plan to show up completely incognito and unannounced to the Halloween Parade 3 years ago now. So without having told anybody that they were going to be at the parade, they just showed up got into formation and sort of knock everybody's socks off. They were such a hit but they decided to come back the following year with a few more people in tow, myself included. And it was bigger and better than ever but it wasn't really supposed to be a recurring thing that was going to happen every Halloween. It was just supposed to be something fun for Shelly and her friends to do.

[2:19] As this group grew bigger and bigger and people were asking about it coming back for a third year Shelly had said that she now just had too many commitments, which is completely understandable, to want to carry this on for a third year or following years after. And asked me if I would take over the broom, so to speak, as the head witch. And so now here we are so you know I hope that for many years to come we can just have a bigger and bigger group. Coming up with maybe even new and unique dances every so often to keep it fresh and fun. You can expect to see us again this year marching down Macomb Street to our same song and dance with a completely different group this year. So it would be pretty fun to to show off for everyone.

[B] When and where is the parade?

[J] So the parade is October 24th at 10 a.m. on Macomb street. It's the same day of the Township trick-or-treating for the businesses. There's gonna be a few things happening downtown on Macomb street from my understanding. [3:10] Um so yeah 10 a.m. there will be a parade and you can feel free to come on out there's usually people that are handing out candy then immediately after the parade I believe from 11 to 1 o'clock so you can look forward to that too.

[B] This year, at least, that's the weekend then after Paint the Town Red. So Macomb Street is going to be going strong here in October.

[3:30] [J] Yeah and it's been really unique to be a part of that experience to I've been on the committee for Paint the Town Red so just seeing how the community is rallying together to come up with these really fun but safe events in the middle of the pandemic has been really fun to be a part of. It'll be it'll be cool to see the Paint the Town Red and then like you said immediately following is the Halloween Parade.

[B] How many how many witches are there this year?

[J] The count for this year is about 35. Last year was significantly larger but understandably there's a lot of people that weren't really feeling comfortable with meeting up for practices and things like that, which I totally understand and respect. We have made sure to host all of these practices outside, distanced. People have masks available so we're being safe and responsible. I totally understand that so the group is smaller there's a lot of new witches this year which I did not expect. A lot of the people that were in the first and second year have sort of taken a back seat and there's plenty of new faces to have join on board this year so it's pretty great.

[B] Remind me about the parade. Are there floats? How does the parade work for those that haven't been to one yet?

[4:34] [J] It's a little bit different than a lot of the traditional parades that you would see. As in there aren't as many floats as normal and I know that this year they haven't made a huge push for the parade so I would imagine it's going to be pretty small. But you can bank on the standard police cars, fire trucks, things like that. There's many people that are local to the businesses or probably just going to be tossing out candy and then we'll be bringing up the rear. So make sure you come out to see us dancing in the smoke. It'll be pretty fun.

[B] And if I remember right the kids can march in their costumes too.

[J] Which is cute to see everybody dressed up and there's usually people along the sides of the street that are also in costumes and bringing their dogs and bringing things in a thermos to have a warm drink, Halloweenie drink in their mugs.

[B] If I remember right if you're an adult you may want to stop at the VFW.

[J] Yes. They usually put a little something extra in your morning coffee. Just a little bit.

[B] It's obviously too late to join up this year but assuming this happens again next year, when should someone be ready to get there witching on?

[5:37] [J] So generally practices would start about mid-September we like to have a good month of practices usually two times a week.

[5:45] And that may be shortened up depending on how many new witches we have. Obviously this year working on a condensed schedule which has been a little bit tricky as the parade was announced a little bit later than normal.

[5:54] But they can always just find us on Facebook that's the best way to get a hold of us and even starting now if they're interested for next year. Send us a message on Facebook, let us know you're interested, send us over your email address, and then we'll put you on the list so that as soon as we've got practice date scheduled for ready to roll.

[B] Are there other activities the Witches plan to do during the year? I would imagine, oh, I don't even know if there any other Halloween parades but that would be a perfect fit.

[J] So we were going to do the Fall Festival this year. Unfortunately we didn't have enough witches that were able to come and turn out to do that.

[B] That's the one at Centennial Farms right?

[J] Yep that was last weekend at Centennial Farm. That's put on by the rec department. And we did do the Halloween party that the rec department put on last year and did a big dance there for a select group of the witches. We couldn't have everybody come out it would just have been too big of a group.

[6:48] But we did that last year as well and there are rumors that maybe next year once the pandemic is done that we will be planning a dance off with the witches of Wyandotte. To be able to do some sort of a crossover event so we'll see I mean I would love to be able to have events around that we can go and participate in. Everything is sort of on a standstill now so we'll see. If nothing else keeping involved with the Facebook page so that you can see if there are any pop-up events and ways to learn the dance going forward for sure.

[B] Oh excellent. One of the things that really strikes strikes you about the witches is the professional look of the banner and the social media is fabulous. There is lots of great content and it's got a great professional look. I know that you've got a marketing company, Rue & Fox. Tell us about it what what sort of work do you do and how do people get in touch with you.

[J] So I started Rue & Fox in February of 2019 officially, but it sort of came out of thin air. I was working as a marketing agent for local forging company. [7:51] And had decided to move on to start my own company just solely based out of experience so it's sort of interesting. As I was working for this company, I had friends who were starting up small businesses including here on the island, and they knew that they needed help with getting their marketing plans started or maybe they needed a new logo or a website and they would always ask me "who do you recommend". And I would give them recommendations and they would usually come back and say "I can't afford to hire a marketing agency like that I'm working on a small business owner budget." [8:20] And I started to notice a niche. A niche little market of small business owners who need these marketing and branding assets but can't afford to hire the bigger agencies.

[8:32] I would barter with my friends you know some of them were starting chiropractic clinics, including my friend Christine Crawford who just opened up here on the island. We did sort of work out a deal to where I and my spare time would help her out she would give me free adjustments you know and we would just get it moving forward. But then once I realized that it wasn't just people here on the island that needed help or my friends there really was this need. That was how I started Rue & Fox, which is marketing and branding assets for small business owners specifically. I'm not building out completely branded, coded websites through, let's say, WordPress, but I'll be using one of these template based sites to give them a unique looking site through the template based program to where they can have a super easy to use incredibly functional site that looks really professional I can develop them a new logo. I can get them set up with email marketing campaigns, social media, and really build them a strong foundation, an affordable foundation, to get them moving forward. [9:26] So that eventually once their business is strong then they come back we can keep building it up or we can send them over to the bigger corporations because they can afford that bigger budget. But it's been really fun and really rewarding to help these people bring their vision to life of all these ideas they have floating around in their head for their new business and to put them to paper, internet, and things like that. So that's how Rue & Fox got started.

And yeah I have been able to put my personal touch on the Real Witch Wives, Shelly, who had started it out, built the initial banner but I've since developed this a new logo that is reminiscent of the Real Housewives franchise which has been pretty cool and fun and I've got to build up all of the new dance manuals that I have made for everybody. So lots of print assets as well. So I still get to flex on the Real Witch Wives and certain ways with my Rue & Fox background. [10:12] Yeah that's how it all sort of got started and how it ties together.

[B] The way I like to end our talks when we do this is I like to offer people a chance to make a wish for the people of Grosse Ile or for the island. I'm going to give you a chance to do that in two ways if you'd like.

[J] Okay

[B] One for the witches. What what do the witches wish? That's a that's a tongue twister for you. What would the wishes wish... I can't think of a W word for the the folks of Grosse Ile. And then for yourself as well. your experience with the island and the things. Commonly people will say stuff about the bridges that's that's a common one so either that means make sure to keep that one in or don't. So what would you wish?

[10:56] [J] I personally would wish for the residents of Grosse Ile to be able to remember that we are all citizens of the same island. There's so much divisiveness right now in our world and our community and even on our Island surrounding politics and pandemics and things like that. So just to remember be calm and patient and loving towards each other that would be my wish for Grosse Ile personally. And I know that the witches would wish everyone to have a safe and happy spooky season. I know that a lot of people are nervous again, around the pandemic and around all the holidays coming up so just be safe and be spooky and we'll see you on Macomb.

[B] That's great. Well thank you for talking with me today.

[J] Absolutely! I really appreciate the opportunity.

[B] What's the Deal, Grosse Ile? is recorded and produced by me, Ben Fogt. You can keep in touch with me through the What's the Deal, Grosse Ile? Facebook page or email me at

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