SALEM, Ma. – To say legends never die in Salem would be an understatement. The crisp leaves and the sound of the harbor embraces you in its Americana state that you can’t help but fall in love with.
And embracing that legacy, is what truly makes this town alive.
“In October, it’s what we call the fifth season,” said Jill Christiansen, the assistant education director of the Salem Witch Museum.
Every October, people are in Salem celebrating Halloween – every day of the month.
But what is it about this place that draws us in? Why are we obsessed with the history, the secrets and the mystery?
“Salem is most known today for the witch trials of 1692,” Christiansen said. “The twenty people who were executed in 1692 were innocent people. They were accused of witchcraft for any number of reasons, but they were innocent people.”
People come from all over the country and the world to see the history of the witch trials.
For Tina Fogel, Salem means so much more.
“Is the history but it’s also my fifty ninth birthday today and it’s always been on my bucket list to come to Salem,” Fogel said while getting emotional. “We’ve had a rough couple of years. My daughter took her own life and I got the inheritance from her and that’s why I was able to come here. She would be so excited to know that I’m here.”
History can be appreciated year-round, but Salem’s true colors are seen in the fall. The streets are filled with the wicked, the terrifying and just straight weird. People are wearing costumes, vendors are on the streets, hotels are almost always full, and restaurants packed.
But it wasn’t always this way. Some say Salem is what it is today because of the very thing that legends say cursed it.
“People kept asking me why I keep going back to Salem,” said a man who goes by the name Bubble Bob. “They say it’s a gutter. I say ‘yeah, but it’s my gutter.’ Fifteen to twenty years later, it’s a tourist entertainment spot. So, in a place where it was maybe not so healthy to get brought up is now a healthy environment. When I say it use to be a gutter, I mean a lot of people were dying from drugs and suicide. Twenty years later – nothing but improvement.”
“In 1969, the show Bewitched came and filmed several episodes,” said Christiansen. “Because of that, it really put Salem back on the map again as connected to the witch trials. The tourism industry and many people attribute the town starting to grow right after that.”
According to Destination Salem, from September to November about 500,000 people visit from all over the world. $139 million a year is generated through tourism alone, and thirty percent of that comes in the month of October.
“We see approximatively 60,000 people in the month of October,” Christiansen said. “I believe the population of Salem at this point is 43,000. That gives you some perspective on just how many people come through here.”
So why are we so drawn to this place? It’s the curiosity, the obsession, the wildly weird that allows this town to not be afraid to just be itself. And maybe, we envy that.
So, to say Salem is embracing its legacy would be an understatement.