SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

November 2, 2012

Halloween: 40K people, 15 arrests

Salem now focuses on residents with farmers market, Restaurant Week

By Bethany Bray STAFF WRITER
The Salem News

---- — SALEM — Halloween 2012 proved to be relatively quiet.

Police say the night went smoothly overall, with no major incidents or violence. A total of 15 people were arrested through the evening and overnight, with an additional 15 taken into protective custody for intoxication.

City officials estimate that 40,000 people came into Salem on Wednesday night to celebrate Halloween.

“It was as smooth as could be expected,” said Salem police Lt. Conrad Prosniewski. “When you have enough people coming into the city to fill Fenway Park and end up with only 15 arrests, that’s a good sign.”

“It was a good crowd, they had fun, (and) the weather was perfect,” said Kate Fox, executive director of Destination Salem. “The big anomaly, caused by the hurricane, was that you could get a hotel room in Salem on Halloween night.”

However, the Witch City does not roll up the sidewalks after Halloween, Fox said. Salem’s trolleys and walking tours are still running. And the Witches Cottage on Lynde Street, which normally closes Nov. 1, will stay open through the weekend to make up for Hurricane Sandy.

Yesterday was the first day of Salem’s eight-week winter farmers market at Old Town Hall. The market, along with Salem’s Restaurant Week, which kicks off Sunday, aims to entice year-round residents back to “reclaim” the downtown.

Fox called Wednesday’s crowds of 40,000 “a good number for a midweek Halloween.” If Halloween falls on a weekend, up to 100,000 people can pour into the city, she said.

“Halloween is Halloween,” said Prosniewski, who’s been a Salem police officer for 35 years. “It’s always the busiest night in Salem.”

Roughly 150 police officers were stationed throughout Salem on Wednesday night, from the Salem Police Department and area towns, the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, MBTA transit police, and other agencies.

The night’s 15 arrests were mostly for disturbing the peace, domestic disputes and drunken driving, Prosniewski said.

Police received two reports of knife fights around 11:30 p.m., one on Mason Street and one at Lafayette and Harbor streets. Officers were there “in an instant” and found nothing, Prosniewski said.

Both Fox and Prosniewski credited the city’s detailed planning for Halloween, as well as collaboration — between city departments and area law enforcement agencies — for its success.

Prosniewski called it “a model of teamwork.”

Events such as live music are spread throughout the downtown to thin out the crowds in any given location, and a 10 p.m. fireworks display signals the end of festivities.

“I give so much credit to the mayor (Kim Driscoll). ... She took the tiger by the tail to figure out how to make Halloween work,” Fox said. “It’s a well-oiled machine now. ... Last night was a great example of how it works.”

Bethany Bray can be reached at bbray@salemnews.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.