Crafty Witch Pat Peck
Pat Peck, 83, is a beloved volunteer at Canterbury Shaker Village. She’s known for the twinkle in her eye, but, for the past two Halloweens, she has undergone an eerie transformation. As “Pat the Witch,” she has delighted and frightened hundreds of kids (young and old) during “Ghost Encounters” at the village by smiling and offering her basket of candy that’s guarded by a hairy friend. A new witch takes her place this year, so we asked Peck for some memories.
Pat Peck offers both a treat and a trick to visitors at Canterbury Shaker Village’s “Ghost Encounters.”Photo by Kathie Fife
In her own words:
- When my husband’s great grandmother came to the US from Scotland in 1898, it didn’t take long for her to become a summer volunteer with the Shakers at what is now known as Mt. Lebanon Shaker Village.
- When we moved to New Hampshire in 2001, I was eager to volunteer at Canterbury Shaker Village and have demonstrated traditional rug hooking ever since.
- When I was younger, I used to dress up at Halloween and go out with the kids. I’d put a sheet over my head and would say, “Yeeeessss.”
- I just like to give kids a scare if they want one.
- During the course of the Shaker Village season, there are special event days such as Ghost Encounters. It is then that I abandon my hook and wool.
- They were looking for someone who would fit into the dress, and I fit into the dress. I was so thrilled! It was like Cinderella who could fit into the glass slipper and I became the witch, the star.
- It’s a high-end cocktail dress that came from a swank shop in New York City.
- Makeup took an hour, done by Greg Stuart with the Community Players of Concord. It was so good that my own daughter did not recognize me.
- One of my favorite memories is of a 4-year-old boy who was too frightened to come close enough to take a candy. Slowly, I bent down and whispered that I really was just a grandma pretending to be scary. We locked eyes for a moment, and a sweet conspiratorial smile spread across his face.
- The Shakers wore costumes and loved to do plays. I think [they] would have found it fun.
- It was my idea to put the spider in the basket. It’s a real Shaker basket. The spider’s name is Clarence.
- I played the witch for two years. My broom doesn't fly anymore. Let someone else have some fun. I can't wait to come as a guest!
STITCH CRAFT: Pat Peck has been demonstrating rug hooking at the village for 15 years and is the creator of a framed “tree of life” rug (seen here) that is based on a photo from an archival book on the Shakers. Although Pat won’t be reprising her costumed role for this year’s Ghost Encounters at the village, there will be plenty of volunteers serving as witches and ghosts to interact with guests, share (mostly) true stories, demonstrate traditional crafts and provide the occasional scare. It happens October 22 from 3 to 8 p.m. Food and drink is available in the Creamery. shakers.org