SALEM — Tonight’s Grand Parade kicks off a month of Halloween revelry here in the Witch City.
This year’s Haunted Happenings celebration will have more than 150 events throughout October and promises something for pretty much every taste, from trick-or-treating to the annual Zombie Walk to live theater, art and music.
“It’s just a really festive month to be in Salem,” said Kate Fox, executive director of Destination Salem, the city’s tourism office. “Haunted Happenings is a tremendous, collaborative effort. ... There’s such a range. It goes from the historic to the haunted and pure entertainment, plus food and shopping.”
This year, a new open market will set up on the Essex Street pedestrian mall for the last three weekends in October. The city has contracted with New England Open Markets, the organization that created the popular SoWa Open Market in Boston’s South End, to manage it. Arts and crafts vendors will set up on Essex Street and Derby Square on Saturdays and Sundays beginning Oct. 12.
This weekend will be the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Haunted Biz Baz, a street festival featuring more than 100 outdoor vendors, street performers and musicians. The bazaar runs Saturday from 10 to 8, and Sunday from 10 to 6.
On Oct. 20, a coordinated “flash mob” dance will take over Salem Common. Organized by Salem State University students, the event is in the theme of Lady Gaga’s song “Born this Way,” said Fox, and participants are encouraged to come in costume. Dance lessons will be given before the flash mob, so participants can learn the choreography, at the Boys and Girls Club on Hawthorne Boulevard.
In addition to the annual lineup of haunted houses, cemetery tours, costume balls, ghost stories and, of course, the carnival (opening Oct. 14 on Derby Street), several new events promise thrills and chills.
Cinema Salem will host “Scary Mary and the Audio Corsette,” an event Fox describes as “a 1980s rock horror spectacle.” It will run Saturdays at midnight. The R-rated program will have live music and a film created and directed by Kevin Letourneau of Salem.
Also new this year is a program called “Witch Hunter” at Pioneer Village, a living history museum set in 1630. The village will open on Saturday evenings, Oct. 13, 20 and 27, so people can walk through and get a first-hand experience of Salem’s witch hysteria.
This Saturday, Oct. 6, is the Zombie Walk, when locals dress up as the undead. Zombies will meet at Collins Cove Beach on East Collins Street at 3 p.m. and then head through the city. Afterward, several events are planned to raise money for the Wounded Warriors Project, a nonprofit that aids wounded veterans.
On the other end of the spectrum, family-friendly movies such as “Hocus Pocus” and “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” will be shown every Saturday night at 6:30 on Salem Common. On Oct. 28, a special trick-or-treat event will be held at 5 p.m. on Pickering Wharf, followed by a children’s party at Finz restaurant.
“People are being creative and inventing new events (for Haunted Happenings),” said Fox. “People come back (to Salem) to do their favorites, and it adds so much to the experience to have the new things as well.”
Destination Salem compiles all of October’s events, as well as maps and other information, at their website, www.hauntedhappenings.org. They’re continually adding updates and events to the calendar.
HAUNTED HAPPENINGS 2012
Tonight’s kickoff parade begins at 6:30 p.m. at Shetland Park, 27 Congress St.
For a full listing of events, updates, maps, directions and other details, visit www.hauntedhappenings.org or www.salem.org
Salem’s parking rates have changed since last year; visit www.parkinginsalem.com for full details