SALEM - The broomstick-riding mistress of Halloween is everywhere in this cityWell, Mr. Szczuka, think of this as Salem's payment for killing all those innocent "witches" all those years ago.
of witches - on the police cruisers' emblem, the high school mascot, and the
masthead of a local newspaper. Visitors can buy Witch City shot glasses and
pointy hats; visit The Witch House, the city-owned home of a witch trials judge;
or buy Wychcraft beer.
But, as an expected 75,000 people converge on
Salem for Halloween tonight, an increasing number of locals are grumbling that
area businesses, and perhaps even Salem's mayor, have commercialized a quaint
city also known for Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Peabody Essex Museum.
During October, Salem "turns into Spooky World, which is difficult
because everyone walks around the street . . . like you're at Disney World,"
said longtime resident Michael Szczuka, who owns a dry-cleaning business near
the main Halloween retail street.