Posted by: yachtcrewsing | October 31, 2011

Salem, Massachusetts

Without fully recognizing it, of late I seem to be fervently attempting to fulfill as many experiential cliches as possible, including going to a musical show and strolling Central Park in NYC, eating Bagels in Montreal and having a pint at the bar on which the TV show Cheers was predicated. Some may label this as the ultimate affliction of a map-wielding, visitor’s-guide toting tourist, but I prefer the term ‘culturally experiential.’ I have come to realize that it is necessary to participate in these sorts of ‘world renowned’ events, deem them worthy or unfounded, and then continue with exploration as normal.

Continuing in this delightful vein of cultural cliches, this past weekend I ticked ‘going Salem Massachusetts for halloween weekend’ off of my life’s to-do list.

Salem now reins as the self-professed halloween capital of North America, being the locale of the infamous Witch Trials in 1692. During this period, the small puritan village of 1000 residents jailed 150 of their fellow townsfolk on suspicion of witchcraft. By the end of the irrational hysteria brought on by the ravings of young girls, 19 men and women had been hanged or otherwise killed on the basis of heresy. A veritable town-wide haunted house, it seemed both a perfect and necessary place to experience around the end of October.

Salem is situated a mere half-hour train ride away from Boston, an easily accessible distance from my current location in Newport. A friend of mine come down with a group from Toronto, whom I readily joined them at the Salem train platform as the sky darkened on Saturday night. Pouring from the train alongside us and into the deluge of rain and bitter cold were dozens and dozens of impressively dressed halloween revelers.

Once we had warmed up sufficiently and paradoxically changed into costumes that would ensure frostbite when displayed in the outdoors, we finally made our way into the town centre. After lining up for over half an hour in the dismal weather, we were told that the bar did not accept Canadian IDs and we were thus rudely denied entry. The remainder of the night became a bit of a wander around the fabulous old town, completed with a costume parade of incredible proportions, and of course the best part- the rain turning in to snow!!

The next morning was initiated by a one-inch thick blanket of snow on the cars and ground, and occasioned a nice coffee and breakfast at the charming Salem Inn where we were staying. Fueled up, we had a full afternoon of wandering around the historic buildings, admiring the decorations, shopping at temporary stalls in the town squares, wandering the historic graveyard, and of course attending the informative and somewhat performative Salem Witch Museum. Although the town admittedly is slightly hokey (for lack of a better descriptor) in its halloween guise, it is nonetheless merited by its foundational history, architecture and small-town charm.

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