October is in its last days. The final Saturday of the month brought good weather and large crowds. Hordes of visitors crowded downtown streets and stood in long lines outside of many shops and restaurants.
It is always interesting to try and forecast how crowded the city will be on October weekends. There is no foolproof system. My method is to begin looking at traffic patterns on Thursday afternoons. If the traffic on a Thursday seems heavier than normal, it usually indicates the crowds are coming in early.
Friday was very steady downtown, The numbers didn't overwhelm, but the tourists were out, about and spending money. Pointy hats, funky masks and painted faces were all about.
Saturday was as busy a non-Halloween Saturday as I have seen in the 16 Octobers that I have worked in my various capacities. Businesses on the pedestrian mall and a few of the outlying restaurants reported record numbers.
Every year I look forward to trying out my rudimentary language skills with the various nationalities that I encounter. My German is still good enough for some basic conversation. Japanese students from SSU and their visiting families always appreciate it when I try to remember what little of their language I recall from 30 years ago.
This year has brought more Koreans and Chinese to Salem than in years past. Memory served me well as I was able to pull "Yoboseyo," hello in Korean, from the depths of my brain. A young Chinese lady taught me that "ni hao" is a basic Chinese hello.
Wind and rain but no hurricane
Once again the weather experts managed to effectively create a small, local economic stimulus. By projecting multiple tracks for Hurricane Sandy they managed to get people worked up enough to rush the grocery stores for emergency supplies.
Stopping in to Walgreens on Saturday night, I stood in line and watched as the young man at the register did his best to sell flashlights and batteries to customers.
This is New England. We get storms. Seldom are those storms hurricanes when they reach us. They may be hurricanes when they hit landfall, but usually by the time they reach us they have been downgraded. We may lose power, experience some flooding, have a few trees fall and see boats set loose from their moorings, but that is usually the worst we see.
All of this hooh-ha where people run out to buy supplies of bottled water and toilet paper is a bit silly. A little perspective would seem to be in order in the weather forecasting world. Creating a crisis for ratings is not a public service, it is a public disservice.
Farewell to an editor
As you all know, Aubry Bracco is leaving Patch on Wednesday. She leaves Salem as a very well-liked and respected woman. Her contributions to Salem were here every day for all to see.
I say thank you Aubry and good luck. You will be missed.