The Salem Witch Trials took place in the 1690s when more than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft – and 20 were executed.
But instead of hiding from their dark past, Salem decided to embrace it. Every October for the past 40 years, the small coastal town has hosted what the tourism board breathlessly calls ‘the world’s biggest Halloween party’!
Nearly a million tourists come to Salem for a month long festival including a witch’s brew of candlelight ghost tourshaunted houses, museums, parades, shops, live music and bad good food.
I love salem during Halloween pic.twitter.com/UYiQSJEHDy
— Macks World (@Macks_World781) October 20, 2022
But this year, some residents and merchants are calling the Halloween festivities a spooky mess.
According to Boston.com, the scenic city with a population of 43,350 people is overrun with an unprecedented 100,000 tourists a day, obstructing traffic, blocking access to shops and restaurants, occupying parking spaces and making life extremely difficult for the people who live and work there .
“Salem is a small town. There is a backup on the highways for miles,” a local pub owner told me. Boston.com. “That’s the biggest problem a lot of Salem residents have because they can’t get anywhere. They can’t even go out for groceries or emergencies or anything like that because trying to get back in is a nightmare.”
Business is booming for some shops and restaurants catering to tourists, which is good news after the pandemic. But other traders are complaining that their regular customers will not be able to access their business in October. Even for thriving businesses, a staff shortage has made it challenging to handle the massive crowds.
The overall frustration of Salem locals was met by Kyley Dolan, 33, who shared: boston.com: “Salem is not Disney World. Salem is a small city with a historic infrastructure. The streets are small, the buildings are small. Salem doesn’t have the space to accommodate 80,000 extra people every day.”
Mixed reaction on Twitter
After the article was published on Boston.com, people took to the Twitterverse to weigh in.
Some were sympathetic to the plight of the local population.
Every city hates tourism. Money is nice, but it destroys everything else from the environment, services and hospitals, disease and crime, food security, everything.
Others not so much.
My answer to Salem—who (let’s be clear) asked for it—is the haunted owl’s song: boo hoo.