Photos by Kathy McCabe/Globe Staff
Hurricane Sandy may have kept out-of-state tour buses from rolling into the city, but Salem officials are expecting as many as 40,000 revelers to celebrate Halloween today in Witch City.
"There are a lot of college kids who have been cooped up in dorms the last few days," said Salem Police Captain Brian Gilligan, who is overseeing police operations for the night. "I imagine they'll be coming, probably by train."
About 175 police officers, most of them from North Shore police departments, will be on duty. Corrections officers from sheriff's departments and state police also will be on hand. They'll be patrolling on foot, motorcycle, bicycle, ATVs, and horseback to control crowds.
"We have a number of agencies involved," Gilligan said. "They've been doing this event for years. They know how to work with the crowd."
Visitors masquerading as jail birds and witches, cats and even a kissing machine, started to fill the Essex Street mall.
“I am a good witch,” pronounced one woman, dressed head to tow in black, as she sat on a stone bench.
Louis Daniel, 3, of Revere, was dressed up as a fire chief for his first-ever Halloween in Salem.
"It doesn’t seem as crowded as other years,” said his mother, Carla Daniel, 24, who has visited Salem three times before on Halloween. “I suppose it could get busier later.”
Thousands are expected to attend outdoor dance parties, concerts and even a beer garden set up on four public stages. Costume balls, a magic show, psychic readings and parties are planned for private businesses. A complete list of events is available on the website, www.hauntedhappenings.com.
Salem Fire officials will use eight golf carts to scoot through the crowd to respond to medical emergency calls. A firefighter and an EMT from Atlantic Ambulance will ride on each cart. Medical kits and defibrillators will be on each cart, Deputy Fire Chief Glenn Beaudet said.
"We don't usually get that many emergency calls," he said. "If we do, they usually come at the end of the night. We can always handle them."
Most downtown streets are expected to close at 5 p.m.
The celebration is expected to end at 10:15 p.m. with a fireworks display over the North Street overpass, near the MBTA train station.
Salem officials urge visitors to take the MBTA commuter rail to Salem. A train schedule is available at www.mbta.com.
Kathy McCabe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.