, Salem, MA

Local News

October 29, 2012

Spirits remain high despite storm threat

The haunted undaunted by rain as they celebrate in Salem

SALEM — Rain and the threat of Hurricane Sandy failed to blunt the spirit — or the spirits — of Haunted Happenings this weekend.

“Tons of people” filled downtown Salem on Saturday, according to Salem police Lt. Mary Butler. Somewhat smaller crowds visited yesterday as the weather turned wet and chilly.

“I think people were focusing on the weekend,” Butler said.

Not only is the Wednesday Halloween date menaced by Sandy, but in the middle of the week, it becomes more difficult for working people to celebrate the holiday.

In what might be a measure of the popularity of Haunted Happenings, however, Butler noted that between midnight Saturday and 3 a.m. yesterday, police brought in 17 people, the bulk of them for being intoxicated. “People were having a fun time,” Butler said. “In some cases, they were having too much of a fun time.”

Even yesterday, with foul weather advancing Sandy’s expected arrival, the atmosphere on the street was almost uniformly positive. Witches, ghosts and people walking about with apparent bullet wounds in their foreheads could be seen filling the Essex Street pedestrian mall and spilling over into the surrounding areas.

“It is a rotten day,” said a smiling Samantha Miville of Providence, R.I., “but I still came out because I only do this once a year.”

Dressed in black, complete with a witch’s pointed hat, she pronounced the city “very festive.”

Hao Tian of Zhejiang, China, is a student living in Cambridge. He arrived accompanied by four Chinese friends, all students. Tian had visited Salem last year, knowing nothing about the Halloween tradition. Now he wanted directions in order to take his companions to a “ghost house.”

The five Chinese were clearly stunned, their eyes growing wide when told that it’s not make-believe for everybody and that there are actual witches in Salem.

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