BY TOM DALTON STAFF WRITER
The Salem News
---- — SALEM — Yes, folks are flocking here for the usual fall foolishness, but has anybody taken a gander at the front door of the Peabody Essex Museum?
It’s busier than a Salem cop breaking up bar fights on a Friday night.
More than 100,000 people came through the PEM doors this summer, their second-biggest summer since the 2003 reopening.
The last couple of weekends have been absolutely packed. There were more than 3,500 patrons two weekends ago, and 5,000 last weekend.
The Ansel Adams photo exhibit, which ends Monday, has drawn huge crowds. There are also lots of people coming for the Stephen Jones hat exhibit to gawk at madcap millinery that nobody in their right mind would wear.
Gazing at the fancy folks in sport coats and wire-rimmed glasses, a thought occurs: Is anybody left in the city of Cambridge?
It was interesting to note last weekend that many of the visitors didn’t head straight for the garage when they exited. Instead, they turned left or right, presumably to eat at local restaurants or browse local shops.
You know, there might be something to this “creative economy” mumbo-jumbo preached by Patricia Zaido of The Salem Partnership and Christine Sullivan of Salem State.
Say what you will about Witchcraft Heights Elementary School Principal Mark Higgins, but the man has courage.
It would have been enough for some principals to make sure all the kids were dressed as little pandas for the Haunted Happenings Parade, which adopted the “World Animal Day” theme this year.
Higgins didn’t stop there. He came dressed as a giant panda.
Assuming, of course, he didn’t chicken out in yesterday’s rain.
It’s hard to imagine anyone is following the redevelopment (and demolition) plans of St. Joseph Church more closely than the Class of 1962 at the former St. Joseph’s Academy.
It had to be a hot topic when they met last month at the Danversport Yacht Club for their 50th reunion.
In 1952, they had the honor of being the first class to holds its First Communion in what was then a brand-new St. Joseph Church.
By the way, the church isn’t slated to come down until mid-November or later.
Did you see the story on the three new police dogs making their debut in yesterday’s parade? Did you notice their names?
They are Turbo, Kruger and Thor.
Those are pretty powerful names. Enough to inspire fear in any bad guy or unruly crowd.
It’s unfortunate those aren’t their real names. The police apparently gave the German shepherds new names for their new roles.
Our sources tell us that Thor, for example, used to be Elliot. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but Elliot just doesn’t measure up.
“Sic ‘em, Elliot,” doesn’t get the knees shaking.
Nice moment last Saturday.
Salem veterans and a representative from Sen. John Kerry’s office drove to Witchcraft Heights to present a burial flag to Rita Lebrecque in honor of her brother, who was killed in World War II.
U.S. Army Private Adrian Pelletier, a paratrooper, was one of 11 Pelletier children. Amazingly, he was one of six brothers to serve during the war. He is buried in France.
Matter of preservation
The Mack Park Neighborhood Association does a lot more than bake calzones and raise funds to buy police dogs.
They are a political hot spot.
The same group that has staged candidates’ nights is holding a forum Oct. 17 on the Community Preservation Act, a ballot question on Nov. 6.
Hard coal facts
We’re sorry to bring this up again, but the guy makes it so easy.
In the first presidential debate Wednesday night, Republican contender Mitt Romney uttered these immortal words: “I love coal!”
If he loves coal so much, then who was that guy who held a press conference on a Salem lawn in 2003 slamming our coal-fired power plant?
Obama got a hold of the video from that day and turned it into a campaign ad that runs in Ohio and other coal states.
Want to hear Gov. Romney’s exact words on that fateful day? Roll the tape.
“I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people,” he said. Then he turned and pointed toward the plant in case anybody missed the point.
“That plant, that plant kills people,” he said.
The only thing he’s got going for him is that the coal miners in Ohio and other swing states don’t like Obama, either. This is the first time in 40 years the United Mine Workers union declined to endorse anybody for president.
You know that old can of paint in your garage and that cabinet full of ant poison? Tomorrow is your chance to get rid of it.
The city is holding a household hazardous waste day from 8 a.m. to noon at Salem High.
Tip of the week
This is both an announcement and a warning.
The Salem Zombie Walk returns tomorrow. It starts at 3 p.m. from Collins Cove and heads toward the downtown.
If you haven’t seen it before, bring your smelling salts.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.