, Salem, MA

Local News

November 2, 2013

High marks for Halloween

Few arrests, friendly crowds make festival a treat

BEVERLY — SALEM — Halloween 2013 was more treat than trick.

“It was a good night,” said Kate Fox, executive director of Destination Salem, the city’s tourism office.

Even police agreed.

“I think it went very well,” said Chief Paul Tucker.

In past years, Salem Police have taken as many as 75 people into custody on Halloween night. This year, there were six Halloween-related arrests, and only five before midnight in the downtown, where tens of thousands of costumed revelers celebrated. Unlike past years, there were no reports of stabbings or other serious incidents.

“This is a result of planning, zero tolerance and making it family-friendly,” Tucker said.

The most serious of the Halloween-related arrests involved three men who were arguing and threatening to fight, according to police, despite requests from police to break it up. One of the men was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, the other two with disorderly conduct. The first pleaded not guilty in court yesterday; the other two admitted to the disorderly conduct charges and were fined $150.

In a separate incident a woman was charged with assault and battery on a police officer and disorderly conduct.  

One person was charged with violating the city’s knife ordinance, a charge that will be dismissed once he pays a $100 fine, and another was charged with assault and battery and resisting arrest.

There was a report of vandalism in South Salem, a smashed car window on Cabot Street, and large, noisy crowds in several neighborhoods.

But those incidents were the exceptions. Police Lt. Conrad Prosniewski said this year’s crowd “was one of the most orderly crowds we’ve had. People enjoyed themselves. When it came time to go home, they went home.”

People were also cooperative with the extra security procedures, including bag checks, said Prosniewski.

An estimated 200 police officers worked Halloween night, including State Police and federal agents. In a post-Boston Marathon bombing move, metal trash containers were removed and replaced with cardboard containers, and mailboxes were covered.

As in past years, the Department of Public Services got high marks for the cleanup.

“It looked great,” said Ward 1 Councilor Bob McCarthy, who drove through the downtown yesterday on his way to work. “The streets were clean.”

For businesses, Halloween night was the culmination of a strong, month-long Haunted Happenings, an official said.

“I think it went very well,” said Rinus Oosthoek, executive director of the Salem Chamber of Commerce. “The restaurants all seemed to be doing pretty good. ... I think people were pretty happy, and I think that reflected the fact it was a real solid October.”

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, police and city officials spent many hours on additional planning.

“We’re pleased, given the number of folks in the downtown, that we had minimal arrests and, thankfully, no serious incidents of violence,” said Mayor Kim Driscoll.  “But we’re always looking for ways to do it better.”

The city “dodged a bullet” with the weather, the mayor said. Early rain gave way to an unseasonably warm evening with light winds, which allowed bands to perform and the closing fireworks to be held.

“We’re training people,” Driscoll said, “to come early, have your fun but don’t stay too late.”   

Tom Dalton can be reached at


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