Note to readers: This article has been changed to reflect a correction. Mayor's Night Out is Friday, Oct. 4.
SALEM — The Witch City kicks off the Halloween season with two family-friendly, hometown events this week: the Haunted Happenings Grand Parade and the Mayor’s Night Out trick-or-treat event.
Friday, starting at 5:30 p.m., more than 40 Salem businesses will keep their doors open — and treats ready — for costumed youngsters.
The annual Haunted Happenings parade is Thursday. The procession will step off from Shetland Park at 6:30 p.m. and make its way through the downtown, ending at the common.
Both events signal the official start of the city’s monthlong Haunted Happenings celebration.
Each of the city’s public schools will have a float in Thursday’s parade, and there will be numerous marching bands, community groups and vehicles of all kinds. As of yesterday, the count was 71 different organizations, but that will increase until parade day, said Rinus Oosthoek, director of the Salem Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the parade.
This year’s parade theme is “Books Come Alive.” Many of the floats and costumes will be based on books, from “Charlotte’s Web” and “Harry Potter” to “Where the Wild Things Are.”
“Kids — whether they are little or big — just love getting dressed up and walking downtown in the dark,” Oosthoek said. “The surprise on people’s faces, that’s what I like.”
Thursday’s parade will depart Shetland Park and make its way down Derby Street, Central Street, Front Street, Washington Street and the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall, ending at Salem Common.
Friday afternoon and evening, several Salem museums and attractions are offering free admission to Salem residents who can show proof of residency. Parking at the city’s Museum Place Mall and South Harbor garages will also be free for residents after 4 p.m.