By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — Halloween night could be Salem’s biggest-ever, or not. It all depends on the Red Sox.
If the Red Sox don’t win tonight, clinching the World Series title in six games, a high-stakes Game 7 would fall on Halloween night, Salem’s busiest of holidays.
Kate Fox, director of Destination Salem, the city’s tourism office, said she’s been thinking about this possibility ever since it became clear the Sox were headed to the World Series. Salem’s “street party” atmosphere on Halloween is finished by the time World Series games have been ending, close to midnight, she said.
“I’m sure we’ll have a great crowd, and there will be a lot of Red Sox costumes and maybe a few umpire costumes,” said Fox, chuckling. “I don’t know if it’s going to enhance (Halloween) crowds or detract ... I think the people watching the game will be safely tucked into bars or at home. I’m hoping it won’t have a direct effect on our crowds.”
Salem police Chief Paul Tucker said record crowds have poured into the Witch City this month — an indicator that Halloween 2013 could be big.
“The last three weekends have been the busiest that we have ever seen in the history of Haunted Happenings. Most of it has to do with the weather; the weather’s been fantastic,” Tucker said. “If that’s any indication, this just could be a crowd the magnitude of which we haven’t seen yet. There is that possibility.”
“... The people that are coming here, are coming here anyway (regardless of the World Series),” he said.
Juli Lederhaus, general manager of the Hawthorne Hotel, said her downtown hotel sold out of rooms “months ago,” and they’re already planning for Halloween 2014.
This year, they’re planning for close to 300 for Go Out Loud’s “Scream Out Loud” Halloween bash in the hotel’s ballroom, she said.
Enhanced security has been the focus this year, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. Roughly 200 police officers will be in the city tomorrow night, in uniform and in plainclothes, from the Salem Police Department and a myriad of out-of-town agencies.
Tucker said his team will have a meeting tomorrow morning and will tailor their detailed security plan according to whether the Sox will be playing or not. If so, there is a possibility of a “second wave” of revelers spilling out from bars and events after the game ends, Tucker said.
“We’ll have enough resources in place and a 24-hour lead time,” he said.
If it weren’t Halloween, manpower from NEMLEC, the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council would probably be headed to handle crowds at Fenway Park.
“NEMLEC is committed to come to Salem,” said Tucker, who is NEMLEC vice president. “We’re first priority.”
“While we’re all certainly hoping for the Sox to wrap this up in Game 6 tonight, we still have to plan for the possibility of the final game of the series falling on Halloween,” said Mayor Kim Driscoll. “The city and our law enforcement partners have incorporated this contingency into our public safety plan, including consideration of how we will make up for any diversion of planned resources to Boston for the game. Our expectation is that a Game 7 may reduce the quantity of people out in Salem on Thursday, but in any event, we’ll be ready.”
Downtown streets will begin to close at 4 p.m. Thursday (see map), and concerts and events will be happening throughout the city over the course of the evening.
Beverly native and “American Idol” finalist Angie Miller will perform on Salem Common at 8 p.m. Her brother’s band, Exiting the Fall, will open for Miller at 7 p.m.
A projection light show, planned for last year but canceled due to rain, will happen at Tabernacle Church on Washington Street at 7:45 and 9 p.m.
The evening will conclude with a fireworks display above Washington and Bridge streets at 10:15 p.m. After that, police will disperse downtown crowds.
The National Weather Service predicts tomorrow evening will have temperatures in the 50s, with a 50 percent chance of showers.
Last year, with Halloween on a Wednesday, city officials estimated 40,000 people came into Salem for the evening. Police made 15 arrests and took an additional 15 people into protective custody for intoxication.
Bethany Bray can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.
Halloween in Salem Schedule of free, public events 4 to 10 p.m. Shock Top Beer Garden (ages 21 +) Federal and Washington Streets 5 p.m. AJ Edwards (acoustic music), Washington Street main stage 6 p.m. The Rare Occasions, Washington Street main stage 7 p.m. Naked Stills, Washington Street main stage 7 p.m. Exiting the Fall, Salem Common 7 to 10 p.m. Grateful Ted and Britannica, Hawthorne Boulevard 7 to 10 p.m. Undercover Band, Front Street 8 p.m. Angie Miller, Salem Common 8:20 and 9:10 p.m. Spike the Punch, Washington Street main stage 10:15 p.m. Halloween finale fireworks, Washington and Bridge Streets 11:05 p.m. final MBTA train from Salem toward Boston; 11:11 and 11:45 p.m. final trains to Beverly For full details on street closures, event schedules and more information, see www.hauntedhappenings.org or www.salem.com