Salem is just wrapping up its two weeks of Heritage Days activities, which included a Maritime Festival at the Salem Maritime Historic Site, the Firemen’s Muster at the Willows, the Essex Street Fair, the Witches’ Cup bicycle race around Salem Common, the antique car meet here on Chestnut Street, and lots of events involving ice cream and/or music. You’ve got to love a town that celebrates itself AND summer. And we are now in the midst of those perfect New England summer days: clear, bright and sunny in the high 70s/low 80s during the day, high 50s/low 60s at night–you need a light (cotton) blanket, but not an air conditioner. Minimal humidity. PERFECT. This particular celebration has been going on for more than 50 years, but before that, there were other pageants, commemorations, festivals: I don’t think Salem has every missed an anniversary, or an opportunity to celebrate something, and before Haunted Happenings took over in the past few decades, these celebrations usually happened in the summer. So here’s a portfolio of festivities, present and past.
Scenes from Salem’s Heritage Days, these past few weeks: the Maritime Festival, the Witch House, The Antique Car Meet on Chestnut–which was bigger and better than ever this year.
And some summer celebrations from the past: once again, I’m turning to long-term (1917-67) Boston Herald-Traveler Photographer Leslie Jones, whose archives are at the Boston Public Library. Jones was in Salem often in the later 1920s and 1930s, to record swimming meets and other activities at the Willows, the arrival of the replica Arbella in the 1630 pageant marking the Tercentenary of Salem’s founding, and a very interesting water festival at the Smith Memorial Pool, the largest open-air “natural” swimming pool on the east coast, where Summer was REALLY celebrated for many years.