The Purple Hat Girl to Be Remembered at Resonate Suwannee

Resonate Suwannee returns to Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park March 30 – April 2. In relative terms, this is a new festival for the park, and it has received creative input this year from Paul Levine, the man many regard as the very best at what he does: curating music festivals. He was largely if not completely responsible for Bear Creek Music & Arts Festival and Suwannee Rising and the current monster hit Suwannee Hulaween, among others.

The festival nearest and dearest to his heart, however, was Purple Hatter’s Ball, which debuted in 2008 and had its final event 2018. The festival was named for Rachel Morningstar Hoffman, the girl in the purple hat. Rachel was a regular attendee at festivals at the park, a free spirit floating with all of the other free spirit there in Live Oak enjoying music and community.

Rachel had just been graduated from Florida State University in 2007 when she was busted by local police for possession of marijuana and prescription pills. Without any preparation, she was coerced by inept authorities to be a confidential informant in a drug sting, absolutely absurd on the face of it. She was murdered by the targets of the sting.

As a result of the atrocious conduct of the police, Florida SB 604, known commonly as “Rachel’s Law,” was passed January 8, 2009. Rachel’s mother, Margie Weiss, became an advocate for changing laws nationally concerning confidential informants. In an interview in 2017 with Michael Fritz of Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Levine noted:

Margie keeps working on helping other people pass legislation. She’s working with their cases and now she uses Rachel’s case to nationally highlight problems with using a confidential informant. She talks to victims, she talks to legislatures. She helps to do as much as she can do on a national level, but its not easy. She has to deal with a lot of grievances but she really does the best she can. We’re very active in spreading the message not to work with confidential informants, or at least knowing what your rights are before you’re pushed in a direction where you don’t know what you’re doing.

Each year, Margie releases 24 butterflies from the amphitheater stage. She talks to the crowd and then we release them. Rachel was 23 years old and the last one if for her spirit, which still lives on in our hearts.

Margie Weiss did the butterfly release for all 11 years of Purple Hatter’s Ball.

Which brings us to Resonate Suwannee 2023, where Margie will join us once again on Saturday evening to release butterflies.

Nothing could be more fitting.

Mama Margie and Paul Levine


[You can find more information online about Rachel’s Law and about the outstanding documentary Rachel’s Law The Movie produced and directed by Cameron Campbell Ilan.]



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