It takes more than a hurricane to keep the ghosts, ghouls and goblins out of the Witch City.
Hurricane Sandy’s blustery, belligerent arrival Monday threatened to cast a pall over Salem’s monthlong Halloween celebration. While the North Shore escaped the worst of the storm, there was plenty of work to be done before Wednesday night. Some homes didn’t have power. Others had a wet basement or a roof pierced by a tree limb. Many roads remained impassable. Salem hotels had vacancies for the first time in recent memory, and the worry was the crowds would stay away.
Somehow, Salem pulled it off. Thousands of revelers jammed into the center of downtown Wednesday for a festive celebration. Every conceivable costume was on display, from presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama to Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. The most unusual pairing had to be Whitey Bulger and Jesus Christ, as portrayed by Salem friends Jay Downs and Nuno Fernandes.
Fortunately, the night was low-key, with only a few arrests by the time the fireworks went off around 10:15 p.m.
“Overall, everyone’s been orderly,” Lt. Marc Berube said. “Ninety-five percent of the people are just here to have a good time.”
There were two factors working in Salem’s favor. The first was the fact that many people wisely chose to visit the city on Saturday and Sunday, well before the storm’s arrival. Saturday’s crowds, in fact, may have rivaled Wednesday’s. The second was the quick work on the part of the city of Salem, which got the Witch City back in working order in plenty of time for Wednesday’s events.
It took some scrambling, but it’s safe to say that Salem maintained its status as the center of the Halloween universe.