Celebrating Halloween in Salem
Author, Karen Jones, talks about celebrating Halloween in the home of America's Witch Trials, Salem, Ma. There is more to Salem than you'd imagine!
If Halloween is your favorite holiday, then Salem, Massachusetts is your town. Forever tied to the infamous 1692 witch hunt hysteria that led to the execution of twenty innocent women and men, Salem today is home to all manner of witches, warlocks, psychics, and New Age practitioners. Though the paranormal is a thriving industry in this quaint seaside village 15 miles north of Boston, it is not the only game in town. Salem is also steeped in Colonial and maritime history. Settled by Europeans in 1626 it is home to the Salem Maritime Historic Site, the Peabody Essex art museum, and “The House of the Seven Gables” made famous by 19th century native son, author Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Salem is a very walk-able city. Most shops, restaurants, hotels and attractions are accessible within a manageable radius of its downtown district, and a good way to familiarize yourself with the major sites is to take a hop on/hop off narrated Salem Trolley tour. Visitors pour into town as Halloween approaches so plan now if you want to join the ghoulish good fun, or wait until the crowds disperse and enjoy a quieter New England adventure.
Halloween is celebrated every day (and night) during October with “Haunted Happenings” events like pop-up parades, music, magic shows, street theatrics and more. Seasonal costuming is de rigueur and ghost stories abound. You cannot walk Salem’s narrow streets without being encouraged to believe in lingering spirits–and there are plenty of ghost tours to uncover them. Attractions run the gamut of “jump-scare” fright fests, reenactments and séances to haunted dinner theater and kids carnivals. Note: Film buffs will enjoy Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery, a wax museum devoted to legendary Hollywood horror films and genre icons like Boris Karloff, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Vincent Price.
The Witch Trials of 1692 and Witch Attractions Today
Colonial Puritans executed twenty innocent people during the deplorable witch trials of 1692. The period left an indelible stamp on American consciousness, and has inspired many creative interpretations, most notably Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”. Salem presents the trials, and the lessons they teach, with an array of tourist attractions—from historic displays to spooky kitsch. Many feature life-size wax figures with narration, live action theatrics or a combination of both. Popular venues include the Salem Witch Museum, the Witch Dungeon Museum and the Witch House—former home of witch trial judge Jonathan Corwin and the only remaining structure with ties to the trials. The Salem Witch Trial Memorial, a poignant and understated open air memorial, has stone memorials of all twenty victims. Note: Descendants still leave flowers on the stone markers.