The Salem witch trials took place in the 1690s, when over 200 people were accused of witchcraft – and 20 were executed.
But instead of hiding from her dark past, Salem decided to embrace it. Every October for the past 40 years, the small seaside town has hosted what the tourist board breathlessly calls “the world’s biggest Halloween celebration”!
Nearly a million tourists flock to Salem for a month-long festival that includes a witch’s brew of candlelit ghost tours, haunted mansions, museums, parades, shopping, live music and sinfully good food.
I love Salem on Halloween pic.twitter.com/UYiQSJEHDy
— Mack’s World (@Macks_World781) October 20, 2022
But this year, some residents and merchants are calling the Halloween celebrations a spooky mess.
Corresponding Boston.com, The picturesque city of 43,350 is inundated by an unprecedented 100,000 tourists every day, clogging traffic, blocking access to shops and restaurants, taking up parking spaces and making life extraordinarily difficult for those who live and work there.
“Salem is a small town. There’s backup for miles on the highways,” a local told a pub owner Boston.com. “That’s the biggest problem many Salem residents have because they’re not getting anywhere. You can’t even go grocery shopping or emergency shopping or anything like that because trying to get back in is a nightmare.”
Business of some shops and restaurants serving tourists is booming, which is welcome news after the pandemic. However, other traders complain that their regular customers cannot access their stores in October. Even for thriving businesses, it has become difficult to cope with the massive crowds due to staff shortages.
The general frustration of Salem locals was captured by Kyley Dolan, 33, who narrated Boston.com: “Salem is not Disney World. Salem is a small town with historical infrastructure. The streets are small, the buildings are small. Salem doesn’t have the space to accommodate an additional 80,000 people every day.”
Mixed reaction on Twitter
After the Boston.com article was published, people took to the Twitterverse to chime in.
Some showed understanding for the plight of the locals.
Every city hates tourism. Money is nice, but it ruins everything else, from the environment, services and hospitals, disease and crime, food security, everything.
Others not so much.
My response to Salem – who (to be clear) asked for it – is the ghost owl’s song: boo hoo.