Winnie the witch of St. James has become a staple in the community, but after years of being in the elements, she needs a makeover. Two town residents helped raise money to fund the repairs. NewsdayTV’s Macy Egeland reports.  Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost; John Paraskevas; Photo credit: Victoria Johnston

Winnie the Witch, a 30-foot-tall roadside attraction at a St. James farm that generations of families have visited since 1977, may be fixed up in time for Halloween after two years of fundraising for repairs.

Local resident Kenny Maher Jr. and his girlfriend Victoria Johnston said they've been collecting money — including thousands through a GoFundMe campaign — in order to fund repairs to the iconic figure on Wicks Farm on Route 25A.

Maher said they've raised about $15,000 in all so far and will keep fundraising to have money on hand for any future repairs that might be needed.

Maher visited the witch as a child and now enjoys seeing his 5-year-old daughter, Fallyn Maher, get that same thrill he did.

“Since she was 18 months old, she does not let us go past Winnie until we stop by and say hello,” Maher, 41, said with a chuckle.

“I know that a lot of people say that she’s just a witch, but she’s more than just a witch to our town,” said Johnston, 26. “There’s a lot of people who share these stories about ‘When I was a kid, my grandmother brought me there' … She means a lot to a lot of us.”

Built in 1977  by David Wicks Jr., the owner of Wicks Farm, Winnie has become an attraction highlighted on travel sites as a must-see stop. She was made from an assortment of materials including melon crates, chicken wire, wood and military cloth.

Paul Wicks, the farm owner's son, said he was born the year his father created Winnie and the witch always has felt like part of the family.

“In a way, she’s like a sister,” he said.

Wicks said the figure has been a draw because of its size, but isn't "something to be frightened about."

He described Winnie as "like a warming blanket for people for the season.”

Over time, rain, snow and other bad weather battered Winnie, including a 2021 tropical storm that twisted the witch and broke some of her parts, according to Paul Wicks.

But he said despite that, Winnie never toppled over.

Maher and Johnston approached the Wicks family that same year about raising money to repair the witch and the family gave them the go-ahead.

Repairs to Winnie’s head began in September, and a contractor has replaced worn two-by-fours within the structure so Winnie’s torso and skirt remain intact.

Doris Meyer, president of nonprofit cultural group Celebrate St. James, called Winnie “the good witch of St. James" and said residents take great pride in the roadside attraction.

“It has a folkloric value,” Meyer said. “It has history as a piece of artwork associated with the area, so it’s important to save it for that reason alone.”

Winnie the Witch, a 30-foot-tall roadside attraction at a St. James farm that generations of families have visited since 1977, may be fixed up in time for Halloween after two years of fundraising for repairs.

Local resident Kenny Maher Jr. and his girlfriend Victoria Johnston said they've been collecting money — including thousands through a GoFundMe campaign — in order to fund repairs to the iconic figure on Wicks Farm on Route 25A.

Maher said they've raised about $15,000 in all so far and will keep fundraising to have money on hand for any future repairs that might be needed.

Maher visited the witch as a child and now enjoys seeing his 5-year-old daughter, Fallyn Maher, get that same thrill he did.

“Since she was 18 months old, she does not let us go past Winnie until we stop by and say hello,” Maher, 41, said with a chuckle.

“I know that a lot of people say that she’s just a witch, but she’s more than just a witch to our town,” said Johnston, 26. “There’s a lot of people who share these stories about ‘When I was a kid, my grandmother brought me there' … She means a lot to a lot of us.”

Built in 1977  by David Wicks Jr., the owner of Wicks Farm, Winnie has become an attraction highlighted on travel sites as a must-see stop. She was made from an assortment of materials including melon crates, chicken wire, wood and military cloth.

Paul Wicks, the farm owner's son, said he was born the year his father created Winnie and the witch always has felt like part of the family.

“In a way, she’s like a sister,” he said.

Wicks said the figure has been a draw because of its size, but isn't "something to be frightened about."

He described Winnie as "like a warming blanket for people for the season.”

Over time, rain, snow and other bad weather battered Winnie, including a 2021 tropical storm that twisted the witch and broke some of her parts, according to Paul Wicks.

But he said despite that, Winnie never toppled over.

Maher and Johnston approached the Wicks family that same year about raising money to repair the witch and the family gave them the go-ahead.

Repairs to Winnie’s head began in September, and a contractor has replaced worn two-by-fours within the structure so Winnie’s torso and skirt remain intact.

Doris Meyer, president of nonprofit cultural group Celebrate St. James, called Winnie “the good witch of St. James" and said residents take great pride in the roadside attraction.

“It has a folkloric value,” Meyer said. “It has history as a piece of artwork associated with the area, so it’s important to save it for that reason alone.”

'The good witch of St. James'

  • Winnie the Witch is 30 feet tall
  • Wicks Farm owner David Wicks Jr. built the witch in 1977
  • The figure has become a popular roadside attraction on Route 25A 
  • Repairs could be complete by Halloween

Sources: Kenny Maher Jr., Wicks family

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME