Above: A ghoul beckons at the Hawthorne Hotel Halloween Party in 2014. COURTESY PHOTO / Patrick Cornelisson
By Shelley A. Sackett
Salem gets Saturday Night Halloween Fever
By Shelley A. Sackett
Halloween in Salem, the month-long party of haunted happenings, séances, ghouls, ghost stories, witches, pirates, vampires, and the macabre, is ending Saturday with a literal bang: at 10:15 p.m., Halloween Finale Fireworks will light up the sky over the North River.
The best place to watch them? “Bridge Street at Washington Street by the train station,” said Kate Fox, Executive Director of Destination Salem, the city’s Office of Tourism & Cultural Affairs, noting that in addition to affording the best view, that location also encourages the easy exit the city is insisting revelers make at 10:30 p.m..
“We shift gears from a communications standpoint from promoting all the events and programming to wanting people to understand that, while we want people to enjoy themselves and have a good time, we also want them to be prepared to leave at the end of the night,” Fox continued. Police will clear the streets at 10:30 p.m. and the MBTA has scheduled extra trains to accommodate the expected record crowds.
With the good weather, Fox anticipates between 70,000 and 75,000 people coming into Salem for Saturday’s street party. “If you’re in a bar, a restaurant or a party, you can stay until that ends. But if you’re here to enjoy the streets, the DJs, the walking around and seeing and being seen that we all enjoy on Halloween night, that ends at 10:30 sharp,” she again stressed.
Until that magic witching hour, however, there is plenty this weekend to entertain and titillate all ages of revelers.
On Friday, October 30, the First Annual Salem’s Wicked Hot Spice Eating Challenge will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. on Artists’ Row. Tastings will be four types of chili peppers made into a mash with Salem Firefighters Local 172 on hand to douse any serious resulting flames.
Not looking to challenge your palate? “Myths & Misconception,” a walking tour sponsored by the Essex National Heritage Area, seeks to uncover the myths and debunk any misconceptions about the Salem Witch Trials that happened over 300 years ago and that have been dramatized in books, movies, documentaries, and even TV shows. This walking tour meets at the Salem Regional Visitors’ Center and lasts 45 minutes. It includes stops at the Old Burying Point Cemetery, Witch Trials Memorial, and the site of the original 17th century jail.
Not lucky enough to have scored a ticket to the sold-out Hawthorne Hotel’s 25th Annual Halloween Party? Not to worry – there are plenty of other opportunities to party the night away. The “Victorian Halloween Magi Ball” will take place at Victoria Station at 86 Wharf St. from 7:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. Dress in costumes and as characters from books written in the Victorian era by such as authors as Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens, Bram Stoker and of, the creator of “Frankenstein”, Mary Bysshe Shelley. The event benefits the North Shore Elder Service “Over the Rainbow Coalition.”
Another 2015 first, the Heaven & Hell Party, will take place at Sea Level at 94 Wharf St. from 9 to 11p.m. and will feature “Heaven” on the top floor with Ketel One Vodka and “Hell” on the bottom Floor with Captain Morgan Cannon Blast.
Want to celebrate Halloween but take a break from the Salem crowds? Lynn Memorial Auditorium presents a special sowing of the classic 1975 film, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” on its 40th anniversary. Pre-show fun starts at 9 p.m. and the show starts at 10 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to wear costumes, bring props, learn their lines and be on the lookout for a motorcycle on the loose.
On Saturday, October 31, Halloween day is chockfull of events from 10 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. “Salem Children’s Day!” is celebrated on Salem Common from 10 a.m. until 3p.m. with a full day of blow-ups, games, face paintings and more. At 5 p.m., the Festival of the Dead will sponsor a “Salem Witches’ Magic Circle” with Warlocks and Witches and the Dragon Ritual Drummers who will gather for the sacred and magical ritual of Halloween. The Salem Common event is free and open to all who wish to attend with an open heart and a love for their dead.
Evening events include: the Festival of the Dead’s “The Official Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball” at the Hawthorne Hotel; Gulu-Gulu Café’s Annual Halloween Party featuring Ponyfish with Jeff Savlon; the Annie Brobst Band “Halloween in Salem” party at the Knights of Columbus at Washington Square, and Mamadou Diop Band live at the Fountain Stage at Museum Place Mall on Essex Street.
“It’s been a great month. The weather has been phenomenal and that can really make or break the weekend. With the good weather, more people come in and are able to enjoy more things in Salem without being freezing,” said Fox, whose office is already busy planning Haunted Happenings 2016.
For more information and a full listing of events, visit hauntedhappenings.org.