BY TOM DALTON STAFF WRITER
The Salem News
---- — 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.”
Tim Obert, 35, of Salem was wearing a secondhand Obama mask.
“I actually got it four years ago for the last election,” he said.
The most unusual costumed tandem had to be mobster Whitey Bulger strolling next to Jesus Christ.
“Only he can get me out of trouble,” said Jay Downs, 30, of Salem, who was wearing an orange prison jumpsuit with the name “Whitey” on the back.
The remark brought a smile from his angelic, white-robed sidekick, Nuno Fernandes, 29, of Salem.
A hard-core hockey fan showed up with a uniform and sign to express his anger over the current lockout in the National Hockey League.
Bobby Clinton, 22, of Cambridge, decked out in a Bruins jersey, carried a sign that read: “Out of work due to union dispute.” At his side was NHL “ice girl” Kayla Napier, 21, of Stoneham.
“It’s been horrible,” Clinton said. “I (watched) basketball for the first time in my life last night.”
The strongest political statement may have been made by Seth Craven, 19, of Peabody, who carried a sign urging support for Question 3 on Tuesday’s state ballot, the legalization of marijuana for medical use. He wore a green costume with his head sticking out from a large, plastic marijuana leaf.
“It’s a Pot Man costume,” he said. “I got it at iParty.”
Staff writer Bethany Bray contributed to this article.