Lifestyle, News

Halloween won’t be as much of a Happening in Salem this year

Pedestrians walk past the statue of Elizabeth Montgomery, who stared as Samantha Stephens on Bewitched, in downtown Salem. The City of Salem has cancelled many of its upcoming Halloween festivities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Spenser Hasak)

In a normal year, Salem sees roughly 500,000 people flock to the Witch City throughout the month of October. But with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, city officials and event planners are canceling many of Salem’s Halloween festivities.

Salem Halloween Happenings, which organizes many of the events, released a statement with Mayor Kim Driscoll detailing the changes. 

“Many people inside and outside of Salem will be disappointed that their favorite, fun and festive October activities cannot take place this year,” Driscoll said. “However, as a community we are committed to doing our part to help protect residents, visitors, and staff and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Salem. There is no doubt this circumstance will have an impact on the many small businesses, including museums, restaurants, shops, attractions, vendors, service industry staff, and other partners that rely heavily on the increased business that October attracts.”

While Driscoll said the city will “strive to explore options” to provide Halloween celebrations that are in compliance with state-level COVID-19 guidelines, many events have already been scrapped. 

The following events have either been canceled, scaled back, or modified: Haunted Happenings Grand Parade, Mayor’s Night Out, Kids Costume Parade, Lanterns in the Village, Biz Baz Street Fair, Salem Food Truck Festival, outdoor food vendors — including Fiesta Show food vendors — and Creative Collective Merchant Marketplace vendors, Haunted Harmonies, Great Salem Pumpkin Walk, and the Howl-o-ween Pet Parade. 

There are no plans currently to cancel or alter trick-or-treating for families. 

The month of October is extremely important to Salem’s economy, with many of the events spearheaded by private businesses, creating thousands of jobs and bringing in millions of dollars in revenue for the city each year, according to the statement. 

The city is assuming the state will not yet be in Phase 4 of its four-phase COVID-19 reopening plan by the time Halloween activities start. That means indoor gatherings of more than 25 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people are anticipated to be prohibited.  

Driscoll said the city’s “creatives and entrepreneurs” are still encouraged to find ways to celebrate Halloween that follow proper guidelines. 

People are encouraged to look for updates and inquire about specific events as the season draws nearer, with many events that are not canceled having decreased their attendance capacity to follow COVID-19 guidelines. Tickets or pre-registration may be required for individual events. For more information and updates, visit www.hauntedhappenings.org.

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