I can’t recall a Halloween so warm in Salem. Local papers estimated we’d have over a hundred thousand visitors. A conservative estimate, to be sure.
Every year, the closed downtown streets are jam packed with the alter egos of regular folks, all soused on cheap booze. Cover bands blare their renditions over tinny loudspeakers, and food vendors hawk their artery clogging comestibles. For a few bucks you can get tossed dizzy on the battering ram or super spinner.
When you break it down to its constituents, Halloween in Salem doesn’t look so flashy, yet it is. Put it all together, there is a sum greater than all of the parts.
I friggin’ love it.
It’s the chance to go just a little crazy. A collective hedonism we secretly crave (in small doses). Milling through the crowded streets, you find varying degrees. Some of them required a photo.
Like this guy:
I see him every year. Check out that sandwich board, eh? Hellfire and Eternal Suffering! Now check out the mug on the wearer. Cool as a Greenland glacier. It’s an irony I couldn’t verbalize, but instantly appreciated.
Now I’ve never been a religious sort, but I gotta respect this guy. You can tell he’s confident in his belief. The message is plain, and he’s comfortable with it.
Respect to that.
Then there’s this poor bugger.
Follow the arrow to the guy with the microphone and the open bible. By the time I arrived, there was already a chanting crowd around him, shouting, “SIX, SIX, SIX!” and “BULL-SHIT! BULL-SHIT! BULL-SHIT!”
Naturally, that made me curious.
The man read vehemently from his good book, amplified by his P/A system. Meanwhile, his detractors countered with improvised posters and collective heckling. Ahh, the First Amendment on glorious display.
If you look closely in the upper right, you’ll notice a pink sign.
“God Does Love You,” it begins. “God loves you so much he wants you to change (repent) and be conformed to the image of His son, Jesus Christ.”
(Sigh) So He doesn’t like me as I am, and wants me to conform to the unattainable perfection of Jesus Christ…
And this, being sent through a bull horn into the crowd…
These folks need PR, not a P/A. But before I wax overly political…
The police did a great job. Applause for not hassling this guy:
Plenty of folks recognized the starred beret and stubby cigar of Che Guevara. A porch filled with older gentlemen sneered derisively at the un-American communist strolling by. Others welcomed the revolutionary back with warm words in Spanish. One told me his gun was bigger than mine. I smiled genuinely and said, ” I believe you.”
Looking back at the wild outfits, hordes of nutters, long lines (for the beer and restrooms), and questionable aromas, I can’t help but grin. Ultimately, for me, Halloween is about good times with good friends.
I’m lucky to have both.
See you all next year!