Few places in the country celebrate all things Halloween like Salem, Massachusetts, due to its witch trials in the 17th century, but the mayor of the town Kim Driscoll is hoping that anyone planning on visiting the locale delay their visits to November or even later in response to an increase of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. Like most other parts of the country, local businesses and events have been operating at a limited capacity, but that hasn't stopped the number of tourists visiting the popular destination, even with the town attempting to enforce public safety measures.
“If you’re not in Salem yet and are thinking about coming, my advice to you is skip it,” Mayor Kim Driscoll shared with press, per USA Today. “Skip it until after October.”
She added, "We still can’t allow the sorts of crowds that are gathering here to continue."
Salem is currently considered a moderate risk area as far as the spread of the coronavirus, with Driscoll hoping tourists will reevaluate their plans as to avoid pushing the town into the high-risk category.
According to Kate Fox, executive director of Destination Salem, the town draws more than half a million visitors during the month of October, which is 30% of Salem's annual tourists. Understandably, visitors are more interested in exploring a creepy corner of American history more in the weeks leading up to Halloween, but Salem has museums and attractions that uncover the truth of the trials all year long.
In 1692, young women began to experience bizarre physical and psychological incidents, claiming that they were seeing horrifying visions while also seemingly experiencing fits and convulsions. At the time, the area was divided into the regions of Salem Town and Salem Village, with Salem Town being the area where the wealthier families lived and Salem Village being home to more rural families. When looking at the property lines, many of the young girls who were accusing other girls of practicing witchcraft or making deals with the devil were targeting those who lived in the opposing community. During the event, more than two dozen people were accused, imprisoned, and died or were executed for their "crimes," with the notion of a "witch hunt" becoming synonymous with groups of people seeking out those with opposing views in hopes of exposing them to public ridicule or punishment.
Salem Village would go on to change its name to Danvers. While the exact location of where the hangings occurred has yet to be officially confirmed, both Danvers and Salem have memorials honoring those were killed, with Salem's being "Proctor's Ledge," the location where historians believe the executions occurred.
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