Haunted Happenings - Salem, Massachusetts

Halloween 2018

The Salem Chamber of Commerce introduced Haunted Happenings in 1982 as a weekend-long Halloween celebration with events throughout the city. The weekend included a Horribles Parade, with costumes judged by Laurie Cabot, and a witches brew contest at Victoria Station. Coinciding with Haunted Happenings, The Essex Institute hosted an exhibit “Salem Witches, Documents of an Early American Drama”, which focused on the Salem Witch Trials.

The first year was a success and the series continued to gain momentum each year, adding new attractions and partnering with more businesses and organizations across the city. In the 1990s, Haunted Happenings marketing was increased with hope that Salem’s tourism could expand into fall, a usually quiet time in the waterfront community. By the end of the decade, Haunted Happenings had grown from a weekend celebration to one spanning ten days.
In 1992, the tercentenary of the Witch Trials brought an international spotlight to the City with the dedication of the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. News coverage created a renewed interest in Salem’s history and attractions.
The first Halloween parade was held in 1995, beginning modestly with costumed school children. The parade signified the city’s transition to family-friendly Halloween events and activities.The parade now acts as the official kick-off of October's festivities.
Haunted Happenings now draws approximately 400,000 people annually to Salem. In 2007, the grand fireworks finale was added to mark the end of the month long celebration.

*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem State University Archives and Special Collections.

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