Record Crowds Expected in Salem This Halloween Weekend

Last weekend alone, Salem saw more than 144,000 tourists, 99,000 of which came on Saturday

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Salem is seeing crowd sizes bigger than the city’s historic roads can handle – prompting Massachusetts officials to close down several major roadways and urge tourists not to drive to the Witch City ahead of Halloween.

With more than 700,000 visitors during the month of October, Salem has already seen enough people to make up three Halloweens. Last weekend alone, Salem saw more than 144,000 tourists -- 99,000 of which came on Saturday.

With nice weather predicted for Halloween weekend, officials are not only asking people to take the train or the ferry, they’re discouraging people from driving altogether.

“This year in particular we’ve seen larger crowds than ever. We’ve already surpassed what we would normally see on a Halloween night. We’ve had three Halloweens in essence already in terms of crowd size,” Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll said. “We can’t reinforce it enough. We just don’t have roads that were built for the amount of cars that we have, or enough parking, so a more enjoyable way for everyone – our existing residents and also for visitors – take the train, take a boat, we have a ferry service as well, take a broom, but do not take your car.”

Salem has already seen crowds big enough to make up three Halloweens -- more than the city’s historic roads can handle.

There a couple of other ways to get there instead. Salem is about a 30-minute ride from North Station via the Commuter Rail, with trains running every hour. Tickets can be purchased with cash on board or ahead of time via smart phone apps. Another option for those heading in from Boston is to hop aboard the Salem Ferry, which takes just under an hour. The ferry leaves from Long Wharf and docks in Salem five times a day on Saturdays.

You can find the full schedules for both of those options on the city’s website.

Additionally, the city is planning several road closures for Saturday and Monday. Salem police were expected to close most downtown streets by 11 a.m.

“Please use public transportation,” Salem Police Chief Lucas Miller said. “The traffic jam is not just annoying but does pose a threat to public safety if nothing else from the perspective of trying to get an ambulance or a police car or a fire truck to an emergency.”

(See planned street closures in Salem for the Halloweekend here.)

Despite the traffic hurdles, excitement in the Massachusetts city is peaking amid all the Halloween festivities, with people from across the country flocking to downtown Salem.

People who spoke with NBC10 Boston said it's silliness but they love it. From the people to the costumes, coming to Salem to celebrate Halloween is a tradition for many -- and apparently even more this year.

So what makes the energy so special?

“It’s a vibe. I can’t even put it to words. It’s electric. It’s naughty. I love it,” one woman shared.

Costumes can take months of preparation, from the time to prepare them and building the courage to wear them. From costly to homemade, going all out in Salem is the norm, and getting into character is encouraged.

Just ask Stacy, who crafted six different costumes for her family.

“I don’t even know how to sew, so none of this is sewn. It’s all with tape or glue, and fabric glue," she said. "I love it. It’s good for my mental health."

“We started talking about it in April, so lots of Amazon, figuring things out, and then you just bring it together at the last minute,” another woman shared.

“I’ve been wanting to do this for two years,” said a woman dressed as someone being abducted by an (inflatable) alien. “I think coming to Salem knowing everyone’s going to be going all out for Halloween, it gave me the courage to do it.”

Crowds hadn't thinned by 11 p.m. Saturday -- in fact, they had grown. Reminder to anyone headed to Salem on Sunday, take public transportation.

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