The end of Haunted Happenings, that is: the month-long Halloween “celebration” of Salem’s apparently fortuitous role as the site of one of the most notorious witch trials in history. For many, Salem is Witch City all year round, but that becomes its exclusive identity in October. There’s a constant stream of traffic into and around the downtown for most of the month, especially on the weekends, and people troop around, many in costume, looking for things to do and see: they are clearly not interested in architecture (my neighborhood is packed with cars, not people), or real history (the Salem Witch “Museum” and the Salem Witch History “Museum”, among others, can meet the demand for simple narratives and mythology), nor serious food (stands selling fried dough and sausages line Essex Street). I’ve never understood the allure of Haunted Happenings, either from the perspective of the city or the tourists, but Salem has been selling itself as the Witch City for more than a century now (the witch below is on the cover of a 1904 guide book) and it is not going to stop, so if you love the other side of Salem you just hunker down and get through it–and now the end is in sight.
I could show you lots of more pictures of crowds and cars, along with people taking their pictures with the various grotesque creatures that line the streets—or the Samantha from Bewitched statue–and the long lines in front of psychic parlors, but another way to convey what it’s like to live in Salem during October is through news headlines: these three (from the Salem Patch) caught my attention in the past few weeks:
Salem Psychic Studio Accused of Taking $16K to Remove Curse (October 16)
Help Find Sick [Black] Kitten Stolen from Salem Animal Shelter (October 18)
and my favorite:
Salem Police Look for Axe-wielding Man Wearing Gas Mask (October 23)