Welcome to Part II of my series about Halloween in our fair city of Salem, Massachusetts!
If you live in Salem, you’re probably thinking one thing this week: We made it! (Woohoo!) According to the Salem News, we had about 40,000 visitors on Saturday night, and 60,000-70,000 on Sunday.
Thanks to everyone who came and visited our city during our peak holiday season. Check out more local coverage in the Salem News.
Earlier this week, we took a little walk up Essex Street, to see what we could see this Halloween season.
So on Halloween morning, I went out walking with my camera. I wanted to be sure I could show you a range of what it’s like to spend Halloween in Salem.
There’s not one word that describes the experience. Electric. Raucous. Exciting. Spiritual. Spooky. I could keep going, but I think you probably get what I mean.
Halloween Morning: Down on Derby Street
I decided to start slow (if you know me, you know I’m useless before my second cup of coffee in the morning).
That’s me. Mighty tall for a mouse, I know.
I went down Derby Street by the wharf, away from the main action on Essex Street.
Shoppers at Witch Way Gifts are greeted by an almost-life size wooden witch.
They have a bunch of glass witch balls hanging in their window, plus a large sign explaining what they’re for.
The Witch’s Brew Cafe is right across the street.
Derby Street is also home to The Oracle Chamber, run by Michael and Therese Pendragon.
There are more than a few ghoulish doorways and gates in the area.
Even the bushes are decked out in their holiday finery.
At Jaho Coffee Shop, your tips can help decide the fate of epic monster battles. (I tipped in the vampire basket, go figure).
From there, I headed up to Essex Street, for a peek around before dark.
The city’s extra lighting was ready and waiting to illuminate streets full of revelers after nightfall.
The streets were already starting to flood with folks in costume.
Cady Vishniac, who works as a 10-foot tall living statue of a witch, was doing her thing outside of Pamplemousse.
What’s a living statue, you ask? Just what it sounds like…a live person, in costume, standing incredibly still for the most part. If you stop to watch one, it’s truly an art form. (Boston folks may remember Amanda Palmer haunting Harvard Square as an 8-foot tall bride before she made it big with the Dresden Dolls.)
In Salem, even the dogs get in on the costuming action. (This is Nigel in Bat Form. He’s a very nice beast.)
We ran into a pretty convincing Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He was intent on trying to bonk both The Angry Chef and our friend John on the head with his mallet. (Brave and foolish, I must say.)
After a quick stroll, I headed over to the Salem Common, to take a peek at the Magic Circle there.
Halloween & Samhain
To a lot of folks, Halloween is actually better known as Samhain. If you’re a witch, Samhain is the last harvest celebration of the year. It’s also the witch’s new year—and a time to honor the dead.
Now, I’m not talking about the green-faced, warty witches of Disney and Wizard of Oz fame—or that twitchy-nosed, television witch Samantha.
For those of you who might not know, modern day witchcraft is actually an ancient religion—the Old Religion, centered around Goddess, God, and the Wheel of the Year—that’s still very much practiced today.
We stopped by the Magic Circle on the Salem Common, led by our friend Rev. Lori Bruno, to give you a peek into what modern-day witchcraft is all about. This free, family-friendly circle celebrates loved ones who have crossed over.
This year’s event drew about 400 people.
The crowd gathered in a large, outer circle. The witches gathered in a smaller, inner circle, facing out.
Here are some stills. That’s Lori Bruno, with the sword.
You can watch most of the ritual on YouTube here. (Note: The title screens on the video are incorrect, but the footage is definitely from this event.)
After the Magic Circle, I ran into the cast of the Wizard of Oz.
Then I headed home to whip up a little dinner before hitting the town again.
Salem After Dark
After dark, Salem takes on a whole different feel. Take a peek, you’ll see just what I mean.
The majority of downtown has its roads closed off. This is what Essex Street looks like, right near the Hawthorne Hotel. (Bear with me…a few of my pictures are blurry. I was using my little camera, not my Official Mouse Studio Camera.)
The police called in extra forces for the day, including a mounted unit.
Most people were in some kind of costume.
Our first stop was Fool’s Mansion, a clothing boutique. They had a full-on dance party going on in the back of the store. That’s DJ Pet on the left, and DJ MKB on the right.
We stayed for a little bit, then continued up Essex.
Most people come to Salem to have fun on Halloween. A handful, however, do come to protest.
We saw some really great costumes this year. The two best had to be Jack Skeleton from the Nightmare Before Christmas, perched on the steps of St. Mary’s church.
And Michael Myers standing on the stoop of this old house next to The Burying Point Cemetery, Salem’s oldest burial ground. (Maybe you had to be there, but he was super scary. He was just standing there in the dark, kind of swaying.)
We saw more and more costumed revelers.
I even met a very powerful wizard who was kind enough to stop for a picture with a little mouse.
There was a set of teeth and a pretty butch tooth fairy.
We even ran into Guy Fawkes. (A little early, though. Guy Fawkes day is on November 5.)
We wound up at a party with our good friends from Rippin Kitten and See My Drink. We met a few dastardly characters there.
Thankfully, they made their dramatic, caped escape before they could cause too much trouble.
We headed to the last party of the night by light of the ferris wheel at the carnival on Derby Street.
Before heading over to DJ Vudu’s house, we stopped in to what is possibly Salem’s most notorious liquor store to grab a bottle of wine.
We hope you enjoyed our tour!
From all of us here at The Mouse House, we wish you a very happy Halloween! We’re pleased as punch to have shared a little Salem with you. Happy haunting…
…until next year!
And on Halloween Day