Some years back a few Salem business owners decided to use the Halloween season to stir up some downtown shopping business.
Many debate just who did what and when in that capacity. Suffice it to say that it was a group effort, driven mostly by private business owners.
This past Saturday morning I saw the Samantha Statue get its annual pre-Halloween polishing. I then watched as the downtown filled with visitors. Parking became scarce, breakfast and lunch joints filled up, and folks wandered the city streets looking for the attractions. Sunday brought more of the same. This, despite the fact that Halloween is still seven weeks away.
We all have our memories of our childhood Halloweens. Those my age probably focus more on the costumes they wore. Ghosts and pirates were popular then as they are now, but we didn't have as much to work with as the kids do today. A bed-sheet for a ghost and some burnt cork for a pirates beard were the best we could do.
The costume I remember the most is the one I liked the least. As a third grader at St. Mary's Elementary, I planned on knocking on doors dressed a a fearsome pirate. Sister Alice Rose of the Sisters of Charity had other ideas. She explained to us that Halloween was just a misappropriation of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. We were told in clear language that she expected us to dress as a saint when we went out to trick-or-treat. We were also expected to come by the convent that Halloween night.
My pirate costume was put aside, and I went that year as St. Vincent de Paul. It was not my parents style to irritate the nuns.
Over the next seven weeks we will watch as the city fills with visitors. Watch the traffic on Thursday afternoons. That is usually a good way to gauge just how busy it will become.
Like anything else, Halloween in Salem is an issue that has proponents and opponents. For some it is profitable, for many it is just fun. Others question whether or not it is really worth while at all.
For me it is just another time of year to look forward to. The Haunted Happenings Grand Parade creates memories for the current generation of Salem children.
Watching and mingling with the crowds as they move about the pedestrian mall or examine the headstones at the Burying Point is always interesting.
It is wonderful to see the many small businesses make a little extra money to get them through the winter months.
I always look forward to seeing the police horses on the final night.
Yes, there some inconveniences.
Traffic becomes impossible and you have to get creative in order to maneuver around it.
The annual visit of the hateful preachers is something I have come to detest.
No matter how I feel, or how you feel, Halloween is here. We will experience it, live with it, love it or hate it and feel relief when it is over.