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Local News

October 26, 2012

Salem braces for Halloween

Huge weekend crowds expected despite hurricane threat

SALEM — Last year, it was a snowstorm, and this year, a hurricane looms on the horizon. But neither rain, nor sleet, nor gusts of wind seem to dampen the spirit of Witch City at Halloween.

The crowds this weekend, everyone agrees, are going to be large.

“It’s going to be a pretty crazy (weekend),” said Kate Fox, executive director of Destination Salem, the city’s tourism office. “I think Saturday is going to be a huge night. And it looks like the weather is going to cooperate with us. The weekend is looking really good.”

Although she works in a city of psychics, Fox concedes that she doesn’t know which way Hurricane Sandy will head or how severe a storm it will be. But forecasters yesterday predicted that it will arrive Monday or Tuesday — right between the weekend and Halloween.

They are also watching the storm over at police headquarters, where a small army of officers, horses, dogs, cruisers, motorcycles, bikes and all-terrain vehicles is being assembled to deal with the tens of thousands of people coming here over the next few days.

“Based on our observations, we’re kind of ratcheting things up,” said Capt. Brian Gilligan, who will be in charge of the 150-officer force on Halloween night.

Gilligan is bringing in a large police presence for this weekend, including a mounted unit of a half-dozen horses from Plymouth County.

“They work very well with this particular event,” Gilligan said. “It’s a much more crowd-friendly way to approach people.”

Although Halloween is the main event, there may be more going on this weekend.

The lineup tonight includes the Official Salem Witches Halloween Ball at the Hawthorne Hotel, a concert on Salem Common, a Harry Potter Halloween Ball at the Knights of Columbus, a Zombie Prom at Victoria Station and a paranormal dinner at 43 Church restaurant.

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