SALEM, MA – The streets of the world’s Halloween capital were filled yet again with Wal-Mart-rayon clad witches in short robes and be-pentacled Wiccans alike this October 31st, hoping for a good time. Neither group really got the celebration it was expecting. Judging by the police presence in the town’s historic district, one would think Mullah Omar was in attendance. Unless one came well-prepared (i.e. completely ham-boned, one way or another) the only perks were two bandstands, one featuring a nun belting out Top 40 songs, the other a somewhat decent bluegrass band. Also a booth sponsored by God-knows-who handing out free hot cocoa. As for the rest, it was an endless line of cotton-candy and fried-nuts vendors, with the occasional “Psychic Faire” or “Madam Melinda’s Tarot Shoppe, Palmistry, Astrological Parlor, Hair Parlor, Doggie Salon, Matchmaker, and what have you not…” The massive crowd in the streets reflected a fact that was quickly being passed around by word-of-mouth – that all bars in town had a $20 cover charge. How exciting.
Some inventive citizens found a way around the restrictions, however. “We were going to head out to town at around 8,” said Scott Medley, 19 year old “pimp slash king,” outside on Lafayette St. before heading back into the party he had just left, “but when we heard, we realized that it just wasn’t worth the trouble. We sent Johnny out on his bike to the store, and we’re havin’ a smoke break ‘till he gets back. Screw this shit, man.” Johnny wasn’t the only one trying to get around on a bike either. As a passing cat-in-the-hat reflected, “At least there’s so many cops out here, there aren’t enough to tow all the cars.” Salem had indeed become a madhouse, or showcase (depending on your perspective), of creative parking. Double-parking was the norm, as were cars going in zigzags driven by Supermen and Grim Reapers and abandoned random abandoned vehicles on the sidewalk.
The grand finale was yet to come, though. Scott and his crew eventually made it out into the town to look around at the wide array of costumes, from so-slutty-someone-better-be-banging-that-girl-against-the-brick-wall to holy-shit-Halloween-was-meant-to-be-scary-but-not-this-terrifying. They didn’t make it past the end of Lafayette St. As though the party hadn’t had enough kicks yet, mounted police came charging out at the crowd in all directions at about 10:30. Apparently, the witch hunts weren’t over quite yet. “Move up, move on up. Get going,” one cop belted out through a speaker. “We don’t want no troublemaking. Get moving.” And to prove he wasn’t joking, he led the cavalcade even faster up the street at the squealing reapers, French maids, flappers, vampires, princesses and pimps. “They’re just paranoid because some dude got stabbed last year,” said Leslie Goghrin, 20, a self-described “cat in a blonde wig.” “But anything like this, you gotta expect a person or two to get stabbed,” chimed in her friend Sarah Maddox-Lopez, also 20 and a butterfly. “You’ve just got to be on your guard. They have no right to do this. This is just…insane.”