Is Salem the new halloween capital of America?

A flashback to some themed shops in Salem, Mass. from 2007.

Salem, Mass. is well known for its history in witchcraft, and this year, the location drew in a record-breaking number with thousands upon thousands of trick-or-treaters putting on their scariest attire. This time of year, the Witch City in Massachusetts attracts tourists from all over the nation, but others claim “it’s never been like this.”  

Following two years of COVID-19, Salem experienced record-breaking attendance in October. On Friday, the mayor claimed that the city had witnessed crowds comparable to three Halloweens. People have traveled from all over the country to visit Salem, including the Michigan-based Carn family. Leo Carn remarked, “I like how there [are] a lot of spooky, scary places.” The city requested that guests use public transportation because there aren’t enough parking spaces or adequate roadways to handle the volume of cars arriving. (1) 

Salem officials said that approximately 700,000 people visited the city over the course of the Halloween weekend to celebrate with ghosts, ghouls and witches. This indicates that a sizable number of individuals were overcome by the spirit of the spooky season. As thousands were anticipated to converge in Salem on Monday, trick-or-treaters were advised to arrive at the Hallow Witching Grounds early this year. The Salem mayor’s office expected around 100,000 people to visit Salem on Monday. While the sky was clear for those flying on broomsticks, commuters in cars had a nightmare due to the expected high traffic levels. (2) 

The MBTA increased the number of trains and stations in Salem in order to deal with the expected traffic on Monday. In addition, the Salem parking garage was closed on Monday for Halloween celebrations, so tourists were recommended to take trains or ferries to the witch city instead. 

“If everyone’s courteous thinking about how you get here, planning ahead and coming with an attitude to have some fun, be expecting to wait a little longer than you might normally, we’ll have a great Halloween,” Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll told WHDH reporters. On Halloween weekend, Driscoll informed the television channel that the Witch City saw close to 700,000 visitors, which significantly complicated traffic and parking.  

The Salem Police Department also issued a safety warning for tourists visiting the Witch City and families trick-or-treating with their small children. On Monday, trick-or-treating was allowed in the neighborhood from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. (2)

“There is no real ‘trick’ to making Halloween a real treat for the entire family. The major dangers are not from ghosts or goblins, but from pedestrian-vehicle accidents and trips and falls,” the Salem Police department announced in a statement. “If you are driving through Salem on Oct. 31, please do so with caution as trick-or-treaters will be out after sunset in most neighborhoods. Drive slowly, especially on neighborhood and residential side streets, and be aware that children may cross at many points of the street, including from behind parked vehicles, trees, or sign posts where they may not see your approaching vehicle,” the department added. (2)

A couple from New York traveled to Salem for the first time, adding to the already record-breaking crowds. However, some who call Salem home say it’s been nice to see everyone return. They told NBC10 Boston that the crowd this year hasn’t seemed any worse than it did last year. However, it’s believed that Monday night’s attendance was expected to be higher than Sunday’s. By 3 p.m. Monday, the majority of downtown roads were closed. (1)

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