Last year, Katie Kate Sells (right) delighted visitors to the Curiosity Shop (including former owner Linda Ray) as she waited for costumed children asking for tricks or treats. She has been Murphy’s Halloween witch for nearly a decade.

SCOUTING AROUND: Halloween is year-round for Murphy's favorite witch

   When she was 10 years old and living out in the country in Pennsylvania, Katie Kate Sells won a Halloween costume contest that changed her life. She was named “best witch” for her classic black costume, green-painted face, and one special effect that she is still well-known for today.
   “Of course I was cackling,” she said.
   Ever since, Sells – more commonly known as Katie Kate – has been a witch for Halloween, and she’s been delighting children on Halloween in downtown Murphy for almost a decade.
   “Now, I have all the wrinkles in my face to be the real Halloween witch,” she said. “So, I’ve grown into the role.”
   That’s not all that’s changed. She’s evolved her costume over the years so that now she wears an orange gown, orange furry jacket and no green paint.
   “It got to be too boring to wear all the black,” she said.
   This year, she got a new purple hat with orange feathers that perfectly matched the rest of her costume. She sat just outside the Curiosity Shop in her red chair handing out candy provided by the bookstore, cackling and chatting with the children. She said she loves working with children because they tell the truth.
   “Some of the little children I’ll ask if they like my hair,” Sells said of her bright orange hair color. “And they’ll say no.”
   Anne Silver, co-owner of the bookstore, said they enjoy having Sells on Halloween, and that Sells looks forward to helping them each year.
   “She has a fabulous costume. She has a really wonderful cackle- a shrill witch’s cackle that makes you shiver,” Silver said. “But she’s really loving and caring.”
   That balance makes her a popular fixture for trick-or-treating in downtown Murphy.
   “You have to be really careful with children so you don’t scare them,” Sells said. “I am a good witch.”
   There was a time when she was scarier, and she said her three children – who she calls every Halloween for their annual cackle – prefer the scary witch. Prior to living in the Murphy area for 22 years, she lived in Arizona and Illinois.
   “Most of those places, yes, I’ve been the witch on Halloween,” she said.
   She said Halloween is her favorite holiday because everyone can be someone else for the day. She loves that it’s a fun holiday. She also loves the colors, especially orange.
   Of course, her house is decorated for Halloween every month of the year. In fact, one of her friends from Illinois regularly mails her Halloween items to build her collection.
   Her grandchildren love it, and one grandson even calls her “granny witch” all the time. Then, there are the people in town who recognize her in plain clothes any time of the year, and tell her she cannot leave them without letting out a cackle.
   “I love the cackling,” she said.
   Over the summer, she retired from being a registered nurse. She had her own holistic practice in which she taught people to love who they are. In Illinois, she was a music teacher. But, being the Halloween witch is the best job she’s had.
   “This is the job I enjoy the most because I can play more,” she said.
   She also loves being able to work with children and seeing them have fun.
   “If it’s going to bring them more joy in their life, I’m all for it,” she said.

Craft show in Ranger
   The Handmakers Guild Craft Show is coming to the Ranger Community Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
   The show will feature works by local handmakers and artisans, including natural beauty products, soaps, candles, fabric and wood crafts, blown glass art, and Christmas crafts and decor.
   There will also be food and drink vendors.
   The Ranger Community Center is at 165 Little Ranger Road.
   Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.