By Jim Smith

SALEM (CBS) – The “Witch City” was not the outrageous street party it normally is on Halloween.

Salem, Mass., usually attracts around a half a million visitors a year during October. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll said in a press conference on Oct. 16, “This is not the year to come to Salem.”

Still, the downtown area was busy early Saturday night.

There were lots of people in costume on every street corner, with people combining Halloween masks with medical masks.

“I think it’s great,” said one man dressed as the Grim Reaper. “I think everybody’s taking the right precautions here. Everybody’s wearing their mask. Everyone’s’s trying to do their part by social distancing.”

The crowds on Saturday did force police to restrict access to the pedestrian mall along Essex Street in Salem for most of the afternoon and evening.

Overall, Salem had restrictions on traffic, parking and MBTA service. The city also ordered mandatory 8 p.m. closures of all downtown businesses. It wasn’t nearly as packed as usual, but it was far from empty.

“This is very nice to do,” said one woman dressed in a Victorian costume. “This is amazing. Even though it’s short. But, it’s good enough.”

A man on stilts, somewhat ironically, had the perfect overview of the event.

“People were trying to make the best of it,” he said. “Not a ton of people here, but everyone’s trying to make the best out of it. That’s why I’m here.”

Regardless, everyone is hoping things are different next year.

Jim Smith

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