It’s our yearly ritual, and mine, the 2010 Haunted Happenings Parade. Once again, I will be working at SATV to broadcast and webcast the parade. I will be posting pictures as we set up for the day.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Saturday, November 7, 2009
A few weeks ago, I had a nice chat with April Rueber, a country-crossing PR lady who visited Salem for Halloween.
Being in Salem for Halloween is something I always wanted to experience. It is one of those once-in-a-lifetime festivals you need to see before you die similar to throwing beads for Mardi Gras in New Orleans and throwing back steins for Oktoberfest in Germany. This is as close as I have got to Germany. (Fun Fact: Going to Mardi Gras with some girlfriends next year; need to start planning!)
But there were some other things she didn’t like:
Sadly, Salem was more touristy than I imagined. I thought there was going to be more history, more historic buildings, more charm. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I still had a wicked good time.
There are several reasons, April, why you found Salem as you did:
The Great Salem Fire of 1914 took a lot of historic buildings away from us. Urban renewal took the rest. I am still grieving over the loss of the old Salem Depot—the same train station Hawthorne visited—that was demolished before I was born.
Another reason for the lack of historicity on Halloween: Haunted Happenings, just by being, has taken all of the energy in October. Most visitors are day trippers and with all the people we get, it really compresses the experience for the worse. I have taken day trips to Manhattan and I know the feeling.
Visit Salem on a summer week or even early fall and it is a different, slower experience. You can spend time at the Peabody Essex Museum. You can sip coffee at the lighthouse at the end of Derby Wharf. You can enjoy popcorn at Hobbs at Salem Willows. You have time to just soak in the architecture of Chestnut St.
Salem is not to be experienced in a hurry, yet for our Halloween festivities, that’s exactly what we get. Come in on the 31st with 100,000 people and your experience will be very compressed, just as it is for me when I go to Manhattan on a motorcoach and just have time to visit Rockefeller Center and FAO Schwartz.
As well, “history”, as I have written before in my blog, is not a simple concept to be venerated. We have visitors to Salem who thought we were all a historical reenactment. (Our true recreation of the Puritans, Pioneer Village, has been trying to reopen for years.)
History in Massachusetts and Salem in particular has become synonymous with “property values”, such that we have the reputation of being a historic theme park that no one can afford to live in.
Salem, ourselves, has been trying to reboot itself from its history as a prosperous seaport, a small mill town and former retail center into a prosperous city once again. Small wonder we’re all conflicted. I’ve had mixed feelings plenty and often about our progress, and it’s all been written here.
Nevertheless, I loved the Halloween night festivities as a downtown resident.
And Elizabeth Montgomery, long may she remain.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
At this time of day, this is a family event, and the crowd’s reflecting that so far. I didn’t see the LaRouchites today, which I’m glad for, nor have I seen some of the more edgier people one sees at night. Then again, I haven’t walked through many areas today such as Salem Common and the “Haunted Village”.
I’m concentrating on the concert and fireworks tonight. The stage was being set up when I walked by:
I’m going to set up near District Court, crowd permitting. My personal camera and tripod are much smaller than SATV’s so I won’t be noticed. I did get appropriate attire:
See you tonight!
Friday, October 30, 2009
Witches, ghosts and demons aren’t the only inhabitants of Salem today. These LaRouchites are holding court just two blocks from my house at the Visitor’s Center. They’ve usually set up at the Post Office a few times a year, without the offensive signs. Wish I had given them a “helpful gesture” but it’s not in my character.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Once again, I expect a very busy Halloween downtown in the next few nights. If you can’t be downtown, or if you want to know what you’re getting into, listen to my police scanner feed. It has Salem, Beverly, Lynn and Peabody PD and FD, MBTA police, NEMLEC (I’m assuming the command truck will be out there again this year.) and the Eastern Route commuter rail.
Have a good time! I’ll be at the concert and fireworks downtown on Saturday night, filming for YouTube.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Another Halloween in the books! I had videoed the multimedia closing ceremony, but sadly, my camera wasn’t up to doing it. Here are the closing fireworks, though:
See you next Halloween!
Sunday, November 4, 2007
[Still, opening of Salem Now]
As we just finished surviving Halloween 2007, I'm going to bring up an editorial from the Salem Gazette that ran a few weeks ago, The thin line between love and hate: Salem's Halloween tradition. It poses the usual debate: Is it exploitative and commercial to celebrate Halloween in Salem? Does it dishonor the memories of those put to death in the Witch Trials?
This question is really a proxy for a bigger tension that is almost never discussed: Is Salem a museum city, unchanged by time, or is it a living city? Is it a city of historic properties and property values, or a city that serves the present?
On the side of the museum city are the neighborhood associations, the Salem Common Neighborhood Association and the Federal Street Neighborhood Association. These two groups are the defacto rulers of Ward 2 and influential to the city as a whole.
They hate the festivities. One person, following last year's celebration, wrote a letter to the Salem News advocating banning Halloween parties and only allowing private parties with a permit!
The "Bewitched" statue in Town House Square is much hated by these people.
City government is on the opposite side, such as it is. Mayor Kim Driscoll campaigned on an anti-Haunted Happenings platform. Now that she's elected, her tune is changed.
What choice did she have? Past administrations let our factories turn to rust. Our commercial tax base has been eviscerated by condo conversions and Salem State College, who assimilated the old Sylvania site on Loring Ave. and is about to do the same with the Attwood and Morril plant across the street.
We let Parker Brothers go away, so we could let a developer build crapbox "luxury" apartments. The snobs in the neighborhood associations did nothing: It wasn't on their street. Regina Flynn, then Ward 2 councilor and chief snob in the city, did nothing. It wasn't on Washington Square.
So what choice did we have? We hate taxes and we hate commercial development. Salem would rather rest on its history and its property values.
A few years ago, I had to produce a new opening sequence for Salem Now, a show on SATV produced by my friend Leo Jodoin. I love the Bewitched statue. I wrote it into my opener as you see in the screenshot above.
I meant that to present a neon middle finger to everyone in the neighborhood associations that wring their hands over the "character" of the city.
I mean it. The history and the character of Salem are not property values! To turn a phrase from Mencken, the neighborhood associations are puritanical--they have the haunting fear that someone, somewhere in Salem, may be happy.
There are legitimate complaints against Haunted Happenings. People like myself who live downtown will never be completely at ease with the month's events. Others who have to navigate our roads in October feel the same.
But if Salem wants a more balanced city, we can't let the neighborhood associations rule by default. The development of Salem as a living city is more important than the property values of your McIntire colonial on Washington Square.
So I'm in favor of Halloween celebrations. We've had them for 20 years. Besides, more personally, I had a good time people-watching and enjoyed the fireworks Wednesday night.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Halloween in Salem, 2007, has just ended. It was a busy night, from what I could hear on the scanner. I did some people watching at Federal and Washington, near my house, where this photo of the Ghostbusters was taken. I got to see the closing fireworks at the end of the night, which was cool.
It was great watching all the costumed people having a good time. Multitudes of wenches, pirates, bats and ghouls walked by me. The best costume I saw (but didn't have a picture of) was a pair of Spys--The White Spy and the Black Spy from Mad Magazine.
You may have experienced the crush of people at yesterday's Red Sox rally (I didn't go.) We experience it once a year. 100,000 people are expected tonight, with a heavy police presence to go along with them. That's the NEMLEC mobile command post in the photo.
I have a police scanner and I've been streaming it over the web for a few years. Unfortunately, my server I use to stream is broken, so after going to plans B, C and D, I set up a Shoutcast streamer on my desktop machine. It's at http://n1kgh.gotdns.org:8000/ and is openable in Windows Media and Winamp.
I was supposed to make an obligatory "Is celebrating Halloween in the true 'character' of the city?" but the Boston Globe already beat me to it; After we get through tonight, I'll say something.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Tonight is the beginning of the busiest five days of the year for Salem: Halloween weekend. Halloween falls on a Wednesday this year. Almost everyone who comes for the holiday, does so as a day trip, so many different people will come.
The crowds tonight were moderate, more like the crowds on Halloween night were 10 years ago. I don't attempt to navigate the crowds on that night, but I'm going to the fireworks at Salem Depot, since I live nearby.
I have an opinion on Halloween in Salem and its effect on the "character" of the city that I'll express in another post.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Marchers watch the rising moon as they wait for the 2006 parade to get under way. Photo by the author.
Tomorrow night (October 4th), I'm going to be in a parade. If you've never been in a parade, it's an amazing thing. I first marched in a parade only a few years ago, in the defunct (and bitterly missed) Salem Heritage Days Parade.
Last year, I marched in the Haunted Happenings Grand Parade with my good friend Leo Jodoin, producer of Salem Now and chairman of the Salem Senior Recognition Committee. This year, we were invited back and we accepted! We will be riding courtesy of Salem Trolley.