Trip Start Jun 26, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Massachusetts
Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"A penny saved is a penny earned" and I desperately need to put some money aside just in case the car rental company want to charge me extra for a few scratches on my rented vehicle. So for the last two nights I have resorted to sleeping in the car. The first night was on the outskirts of the village, Granite in New Hampshire where I was rudely awoken by a worried stranger just as dawn was breaking and the following night was spent in a Salem car-park. Although I got two nights of sporadic sleep, I am at least 90 US Dollars better off as there is no hostels in Salem and the prices are hiked up for Halloween. But the money saved has mostly been spent on having a good time enjoying a US Halloween.

So it's the 31st of October and I have found myself in Salem, which claims to be the 'Halloween capital' of the world. What makes it ironic is that the Irish and Scottish immigrants brought the Celtic festival of Samheim to the United States in the 18th century, where Samheim is basically the Celtic new year. It is also the time in the Pagan calendar when souls of the dead wander the earth and are free to return to the mortal world until dawn.

So Salem isn't famous for the origin of Halloween, however it does have a very dark past involving the witch trials of 1692. The Salem witch museum gives a good insight into the witch hysteria which resulted in the death of twenty innocent people which all started from the daughter and niece of the Reverend pretending to have fits or behave like a dog. These things couldn't be described as natural diseases and therefore must be the work of the devil resulting in people being accused of witchcraft. There is a good 45 minute drama production 'Cry Innocent' which re-enacts the Witch trial of Bridget Bishop where you are part of the Puritan jury and you can really get a feel of the hysteria flowing through the town as people fabricated stories involving fear and terror in order to get a guilty verdict. It only stopped when the governors wife was accused and spectre evidence was discounted in the courtroom. You can also visit the small 17th century restored house of John Hawthorne (one of the trial judges) for a few US dollars.

Mario & LuigiMario and Luigi (my hosts that evening)

But what the Americans lack in history involving Halloween they certainly make it up with their fancy dress and in Salem they come out in their thousands. It was here I befriended Mario and Luigi (yep, the Mario brothers), where we spent the majority of the evening soaking up the atmosphere from the street party and its live bands as well as visiting as few tacky Halloween amusements. I wouldn't recommend the horror house as it was a big disappointed as it was very smokey with irritating strobe lighting disorientating you and lots of loud banging you don't get to see anything. The meeting with a real Pagan witch and spell making was interesting but not worth the $8 admission. The Halloween parade was worse than my village carnival parade as it only involved the ghostbusters and the ghostbuster car preceding the police bikes. Although the parade was disappointingly short, the firework display at the end certainly made up for it. So impressed I even felt homesick with missing Bonfire night in the UK this year.

Unfortunately my camera didn't want to work most of the night, so pictures of all the fancy costumes will hopefully be provided by Luigi in the next few days. But to wet your appetite I will described a few of the best.....
A very good Johnny Depp/Jack Sparrow and Batman look-a-likes
The glassed zombies
Britney Spears in drag
And hopefully many more.

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JP Z on

Holy shit! This must be Simon. I was the kid in the Mario Getup. What's going on, man? Nice article.

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