SALEM — City officials yesterday called Halloween an overall success, despite two stabbings and an assault that occurred as crowds were dispersing from the city.
Police Chief Paul Tucker estimated that as many as 100,000 people came to Salem throughout the day on Saturday. Given the record size of the crowd, Tucker said it was remarkably peaceful — and police made fewer arrests than on previous Halloweens, including an arrest in an armed robbery near Derby Lofts.
"It was generally a well-behaved crowd," said Mayor Kim Driscoll. "In some ways, having it on a Saturday helped. Lots of families came earlier and some people were leaving a little earlier."
Hundreds of people were still milling along Essex Street yesterday and throughout the downtown. Public Works crews collected trash and litter and drove trucks heaped with black garbage bags, and downtown residents and businesses reflected on a busier but better Halloween celebration.
"I thought there were a lot more people but they were a lot better behaved," said Vera Bennett, who lives in Emmerton House on Hawthorne Boulevard. "There have been years where the crowds literally elbow their way through, but it seemed the crowds were more friendly and congenial this year."
The Halloween weather was unseasonably warm and temperatures hit at least 75 degrees. That was good news for many businesses, including Maria's Sweet Somethings on Front Street, where Halloween revelers purchased loads of ice cream.
"We had a line out our door for 10 hours," said Maria Harris, owner of Maria's Sweet Somethings. "The crowd was a lot of families and very well-behaved. They wanted to come and shop, and they did.
"It was my best Halloween ever," said Harris, who marked her ninth year in the shop this Halloween.
John Drivas, owner of Red's Sandwich Shop on Central Street, concurred. He said it was "much busier" than past Halloweens, and busboy Ryan McKernan said it was a "really hard day but fun" because diners were friendly and many wore costumes.
Rheta and Barry Schloss visited from Maryland for Halloween weekend.
"I've never seen any other place like this except for Hawaii," Rheta Schloss said of the Halloween festivities in Salem. The couple, who were visiting their daughter and son-in-law, had dinner Halloween night at Sixty2 on Wharf on Pickering Wharf and enjoyed people-watching.
Officials said that revelers heeded the city's advice to use public transportation to get to and from Salem, and the trains and ferries were packed.
"Midday, the T reported there were thousands of people in North Station waiting to come out," said Kate Fox, director of Destination Salem, the city's tourism office. Driscoll said some trains ran directly to Salem because they were so full.
Fox said popular costumes this year included penguins and bananas, as well as "Naked Cowboy," a man in underpants and a cowboy hat.
"I wasn't really a fan," said Fox, who added: "I was disappointed I didn't see a balloon boy (a spoof on the Colorado boy thought to be aboard a homemade helium balloon), but we did see a few swine flu costumes with pig masks."
Yesterday, the traces of Halloween could be seen here and there — a pink feather boa lying in a puddle on Derby Street, a small pile of cans and orange cups on the Salem Common — but by and large, the city was cleaned up.
"The unsung heroes of all this really are the public works crews," said Driscoll. "The city was nearly spotless this morning (Sunday) after having 100,000 people here."
Police arrested a man in connection with an armed robbery outside Derby Lofts and police are investigating two reported stabbings and an assault with a beer bottle.
There were a total of about 150 law enforcement officers on duty Saturday, said Tucker, who became police chief last month. He said there were six arrests and nine people taken into protective custody for drunkenness. That compares with nine arrests last year, about 15 arrests in 2007 and about 40 arrests in 2006, according to Salem News archives.
"This is probably the least amount of people we have taken into custody as long as we can remember," said Tucker. "If you match it against the size of the crowd, that's a pretty extraordinary feat.
"It says a lot about the crowds, and it's a result of the strong message the Police Department and the mayor's office set in motion the last few years."