Salem brews up new features for Halloween season

Lisa Guerriero

When you’re the world’s top destination for Halloween travel, it’s important to stay fresh and offer new attractions. It’s also crucial to manage the thousands of people who flood your city — as many as 60,000 on the big night.

 With those two goals in mind, the city is rolling out several new features they believe will enhance the October offerings and also manage the masses.

 This week the Parks and Recreation Commission approved the city’s use of Furlong Park on Franklin Street to hold a fireworks display on Halloween night. Jason Silva, the chief aide for Mayor Kim Driscoll, said the mayor wanted to offer something new that would also be an asset to public safety.

 The idea is to offer a striking pyrotechnic display over the North River that would draw people out of the center of Salem and over to a closing ceremony. At the end of the fireworks, it’s the end of the night, and the crowds would be perfectly situated to be shepherded over the MBTA station.

 “I think everyone thought we needed some kind of closing ceremony, to tell people, it’s time to go home,” Silva said of the fireworks plan, which also gained approval from the fire and police chiefs.

 Atlas PyroVision Productions, the company that puts on Salem’s Fourth of July spectacle, will do the Oct. 31 honors — with a smaller display than on Independence Day. Silva said the display will be paid for through the increased revenues from Haunted Happenings, since the Haunted Passport program and other initiatives have brought in more money.

 Capt. Brian Gilligan, who co-coordinates Halloween from the public safety end, said so many use the MBTA station to reach Salem that the fireworks just make sense. Normally the police have to drive the hordes of people out at about 11 p.m. with mounted police and then later street-sweepers — and that’s when many of the fights and disturbances occur.

 But with so many people leaving the heart of the downtown for the display, Gilligan believes many people will naturally realize that the Halloween show is, so to speak, over for the year. Disney World uses fireworks to end its nights, and it happens of Independence Day too.

 “That’s the end goal, to end the night without using any police force at all,” he said. “Fireworks are the universally recognized symbol for the conclusion of an event.”

Carnival plan takes shape

 The mayor and police have the same intentions with the proposed Fiesta Shows carnival. When Driscoll launched the idea recently it was met with outcry by those concerned about the effects on the historic Common, and its surrounding neighborhood.

 Since then Driscoll has offered a compromise plan that involved putting the rides on the vacant lot on Derby Street that used to be Dave and Jack’s Gas Station, and setting up the vendors and games on the Common.