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Salem’s Halloween festivities good for all ages

Nicole Oberg (left) and Amy Jakubasz pose for a selfie with "Duchess Gigi" in Salem. Kieran Kesner for The Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

SALEM — Dancing ghostbusters, pointy-nosed witches, and little redwood trees rustling on a cool October night.

Salem has been celebrating Haunted Happenings all month, starting with a grand parade that saluted the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

“Salem in October is all about dressing up and being playful,” said Paul DePrey, superintendent of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, who served as the parade’s grand marshal.

Some children dressed up as redwood trees to make the National Park Service part of Halloween in Witch City.

“It was very creative,” said DePrey, celebrating his second Halloween in Salem. “What I love about Haunted Happenings is that it so family-friendly.”


On Monday, Halloween is expected to lure as many as 50,000 to the Witch City. There will be street dancing, witches’ circles, graveyard tours, and costumed revelers galore.

“You see all kinds of ghosts and witches. The kids really love the witches,” said Marie Narinkiewicz, 64, who has a front-row seat to the fun from her home on Hawthorne Boulevard. “Everyone is just out having a good time.”

The fun will end with a bang, with a fireworks display over the North River at 10:15 p.m. Halloween night.

A crowd gathers to watch a street performer. Kieran Kesner for The Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

But before the ghouls and goblins come out and the fireworks go off, Haunted Happenings is just silly fun.

You can ride a Crazy Bus at the Derby Street Carnival (open noon to 10 p.m. through Halloween) or make a magic wand. Snap a selfie with a TV witch or with an English settler often mistaken for a witch.

“Families with kids of all ages come to Salem in October,” said Kate Fox, executive director of Destination Salem, the city’s tourism agency. “Teens and tweens like the haunted houses and the carnival. Younger kids enjoy the events and programs on Salem Common.”


Dressed as a pink bunny, Vanessa MacLean, 4, of East Boston played peek-a-boo with a ghost popping up and down in an inflatable pumpkin on Salem Common.

“It keeps falling,” the cotton-tailed tyke reported to her mother.

“I guess that’s just what he does,” Heather MacLean said, smiling.

Even the fast-food booths are a little bit sweet-n-scary.

Out of nowhere, a deep voice whispers sweet temptations. “Come on over here, sugar, and have some fried sweets . . .” “Isn’t it time to get something good and sweet to eat?”

Ainsley Hubbard, 13, of Keene, N,H., took the dare.

“It’s good,” she said as a fried Klondike bar dripped down her chin. “I did a school project about the Salem witch trials . . . I didn’t know it would be all like this.”

Seventh-graders from St. Joseph School in Bristol, Conn., traveled to Salem for a Halloween scavenger hunt.

Armed with a list, they walked about Salem, a bit bemused and bewildered.

They found the “Bewitched” statue, a tribute to actress Elizabeth Montgomery. But they had not heard of the ’60s sitcom star.

“She was a witch on a TV show who wiggled her nose,” explained Renee Machado, a chaperone.

They also found Roger Conant, the founder of Salem whose statue looms in front of the Witch Museum. They observed his tall hat and long, flowing cloak, and saw how he could be mistaken for a witch.

People gather in front of the Roger Conant statue. The founder of Salem is often mistaken for a witch. Kieran Kesner for The Boston Globe

At the Derby Street Carnival, kiddie rides and thrilling amusements soar and glow over the midway.


“His favorite ride is the Crazy Bus,” Estefany Castillo of Salem said of her son, Rodolfo, 3½. “He likes the carousel, too. But I think the Crazy Bus is his favorite because he sees them around.”

Kiki Leausa and Madison Gilchrist, both 11, rode the Expo Wheel, which soars 60 feet into the air.

“You could see everything,” said Leausa, a sixth-grader at Collins Middle School in Salem. “You could see all the people walking around . . . There was a lot of people.”

“At night it’s really good,” said Gilchrist, also a Collins sixth-grader. “It’s really cool. Everything is all lit up.”

If you go ...

Unless you arrive on a broom, visitors to Salem for Halloween are advised to take the commuter train or ferry service.

The MBTA has added extra trains to Salem for Halloween weekend. There also is a special Haunted Happenings round trip ticket.

Boston Harbor Cruises has added ferry service from Long Wharf in Boston to Salem.

Parking is limited in downtown Salem, with most lots filled by midday, and traffic jams downtown streets, said Kate Fox, executive director of Destination Salem, the city’s tourism agency.

“I recommend taking the Salem Ferry from Long Wharf in Boston or riding the train in, even if [people] park in the garages at Lynn or Beverly and ride in a few stops, it will save a lot of traffic hassle,” she said.


On Halloween, several downtown streets will be closed to traffic. Salem Police also are cautioning visitors not to bring weapons — real or fake — to Salem. That includes scythes, chain saws, daggers, guns, bayonets, and clubs.

“They will be confiscated,” Fox said.

Kathy McCabe can be reached at Katherine.McCabe@
. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.