SALEM — Hurricane Sandy seemed a distant memory last night as tens of thousands of revelers packed the downtown on an unseasonably warm and dry Halloween.
The small crowds in the afternoon built steadily as the threatened rain failed to arrive, the forgotten sun emerged from behind dark clouds. At nightfall, a large, yellow moon rose over Witch City.
Although there had been a few arrests and about a half-dozen intoxicated individuals placed into protective custody, all had gone reasonably well by 10:15 p.m., when the fireworks began over the North River and the crowds started to leave.
“Overall, everyone’s been orderly,” said Lt. Marc Berube, stationed at the busy intersection of Washington and Essex streets. “Ninety-five percent of people are just here to have a good time.”
Berube said police were aided this year by a tall security tower on loan from the MBTA transit police, which streamed video back to Police Headquarters from Townhouse Square.
Mayor Kim Driscoll toured the downtown early last night with police Chief Paul Tucker. The mayor then dashed home to go trick-or-treating with her children before returning downtown.
Halloween 2012 brought the usual assortment of witches and warlocks, ghosts and ghostbusters, zombies and religious zealots.
Mixed in the crowd were people who looked famously familiar and others who came to promote issues that have made headlines recently.
President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, both wearing gray business suits and blue ties, drew a crowd and posed for photos as they walked together down the Essex Street pedestrian mall.
Matt Obey, 34, of Salem came dressed as Romney, with money spilling from his pockets and a “binder full of women” under one arm. Although a Democrat, Obey said he didn’t mind being Romney for a night.
“I’m making fun of him,” he said. “It’s not that hard.”