Paddleboarding coven conjures up a magical afternoon on Dillon Reservoir to celebrate the arrival of spooky season | SummitDaily.com
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Paddleboarding coven conjures up a magical afternoon on Dillon Reservoir to celebrate the arrival of spooky season

Tonya Barnicoat, front, and Poppy lead a coven of paddleboarding witches back to the shoreline of Dillon Reservoir on Sept. 24, 2022. Barnicoat traveled with Poppy from Glenwood Springs to host a mountain-town version of a recent Colorado craze where people dress as witches and warlocks and get out on the water to celebrate the arrival of fall.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Daily News

On Saturday, Sept. 24, folks passing by the Dillon Reservoir may have spotted a coven of floating witches. 

Though it may seem hilarious or even confusing for some, organizer Tanya Barnicoat from Glenwood Springs said it’s the perfect way to say goodbye to summer. 

As fall descends upon the mountains, paddlers will have to pack up their boards, but with Halloween —Barnicoat’s favorite holiday — right around the corner, she said this was the perfect excuse to don costumes and have one more fun day out on the water.



Kelsey Zubrusky, front, drags her paddle to make a turn back toward the coven of witches taking part in a witch-themed paddle at Dillon Reservoir on Sept. 24, 2022.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Daily News

Called Witches, Warlocks and Magical SUP Pups, Barnicoat created the event and Facebook page to gather fellow mountain-town residents for the fall celebration. The event reached all kinds of Colorado water sport pages, bringing in almost 350 responses and 30 RSVPs.

Participants gathered at Giberson Bay, where they kicked off two hours of fun. 



From the bay, Barnicoat — wearing a long black dress and pointed witch hat — led her flight of witches to an island just off the shore, where people could paddle around, talk and “just have fun” Barnicoat said. 

Tonya Barnicoat, right, and her Burmese mountain dog Poppy paddle back to shore after a witch-themed day at Dillon Reservoir on Sept. 24, 2022. Barnicoat drove from Glenwood Springs to organize and host the mountain-town version of a recent Front Range tradition that takes place at Chatfield Reservoir each year.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Daily News

“It kind of reminds me of something like the Wizard of Oz,” Barnicoat said with a laugh. “You know, you can hear the music in the background and you’re just like paddling away in your witch costume.”  

Barnicoat was inspired to have a paddleboarding witch event in Summit County after participating in the more well-known event at Chatfield Reservoir, a lake south of Littleton, Colorado. 

Kelsey Zabrusky and Katie Gallagher, two college friends, came all the way from Golden, Colorado to participate. 

They had originally planned to attend the 2022 Official Witch Paddle at Chatfield Reservoir later in the month, but they said the timing of this event was perfect — especially as the aspens change color. The Chatfield Reservoir event will not be held until Oct. 23. 

Zabrusky donned a neon-orange wig and a cape for the occasion, while Gallagher was decked out with an orange hat and a matching black cape.

Katie Gallagher, left, takes off her cape as Kelsey Zabrusky dismounts her paddleboard after a day at Dillon Reservoir on Sept. 24, 2022.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Daily News

“Usually, you don’t want stuff in your way while moving and paddling,” Zabrusky said, pushing the black fabric out of the way as she smiled. 

Gallagher laughed once she noticed Zabrusky had tucked her cape into her lifejacket. 

With a quote from The Incredibles movie, Zabrusky replied, “Edna Mode said, ‘No capes!” 

Paddleboarders Stacie Jones and Stella Callahan attached glittery cats and cauldrons to their boards and brought a cooler full of dry ice to increase the drama. 

Stella Callahan throws dry ice into warm water to create a spooky effect during a witch-themed outing at Dillon Reservoir on Sept. 24, 2022.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Daily News

“I was so excited to see this in Dillon this year,” Jones said. “Last year they were all down in Denver and Colorado Springs, so to have one up here is exciting.” 

Barnicoat also said Summit County was the perfect location for the event because of its centrality. That way, people from Denver, the mountains and surrounding areas could all meet. 

“It’s a fun group of people that get together,” Jones said. “I love the costumes, I love the excitement and it can only happen once a year.”

Lenny Lipowicz looks toward the shore as Stephanie Lucero paddles back to the shore of Dillon Reservoir on Sept. 24, 2022. The pair dressed up for a witch-themed paddle to an island to celebrate the return of fall.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Daily News

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