Aug 202017
 

Do you wish to do some good for others in the community? If so, then you are part of the 62.8 million Americans who annually give of their time & skills volunteering. In our case, the community is Salem and we are Salem Main Streets in need of volunteers to help us staff the Visitors’ Info Booth during the upcoming Haunted Happenings Halloween season, which begins October 1st.

Yes, we know, it is still mid-August and summer is not over. But look at the calendar again from a staffing/training point of view. To be ready to go with scheduled volunteers by October 1st, we need to send out an invitation now.

“It’s hard to believe, but it’s already time to start planning for Haunted Happenings and the October Information Booth,” says Kylie Sullivan, executive director of Salem Main Streets.

A welcoming orientation will take place on Saturday, September 16 at 9:30 a.m. at the National Park Service Regional Visitor Center, 2 New Liberty Street, Salem, MA. Volunteers will be updated on new October events and there will be time for returning volunteers to share insights and information with those new to the program.

Kylie adds, “Our annual orientation will cover all the basics for new volunteers, and important updates and reminders for our returning ambassadors. Even if you have volunteered in the past, it is important to try to make this training!”

Registration will begin at 9:30 am, with the orientation starting promptly at 10 am. Please remember to bring your ID for the CORI process.

What if you’re neither a native nor a long term transplanted resident and don’t know exactly “where everything is?” You will. Between support from the people in the booth with you during your shifts, to the repeated questions (where are public bathrooms, where can I see something really scary, where did they burn the witches, where can I get a good burger or fish meal), you will.

Purely as a side note, volunteering has been known to help new people in a community make new friends who share common interests & values.

And if you speak more than one language, we clearly could use your help, as many Haunted Happenings attendees are from foreign lands.

For more information, contact Kylie Sullivan, Executive Director, Salem Main Streets at 978/744-0004 x115 or email at www.salemmainstreets.org

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Aug 022017
 

While most communities have a festival honoring their past, Salem actually has two running concurrently. Our Salem Heritage Days Festival runs from Aug. 1-13, celebrating our past and present, while within it, you can also attend the Salem Maritime Festival, Aug. 4-6!

Salem Maritime Festival

A Re-enactor at Salem Maritime FestivalIf you wished to learn some of what passed for life in the days when Salem was a heavily trafficked trading seaport, the Salem Maritime Festival is the place to be. Knot tying, sign making, and boat building demonstrations await you

Hosted by Salem Maritime National Historic Site in cooperation with the Essex National Heritage Commission and Eastern National, the 29th annual Festival also features live music, historical reenactors, demonstrations, interactive programs, arts, crafts, and more!

Plus, there will be lotteries to earn a coveted spot on deck of either the Schooner Fame, the Schooner Ardelle or the motorized Catamaran Endeavour as they take passengers on a delightful tour of the Salem Harbor.

For the full list of scheduled events for the Salem Maritime Festival click on this link.

Heritage Days Festival

There is so much to do and see during the Salem Heritage Days Festival, organizers very smartly planned this event over several days. There are in fact so many things happening (including the a fore-mentioned Maritime Festival) that we are printing the entire scheduled calendar of events.

From ice cream to pizza tasting events, from clowns to firemen, from a street fair to a concert, from a car meet to a truck tour, you will be entertained, educated and excited about the option to do so many things at various locations within walking distance in the Downtown District.

August 4
Salem Maritime Festival Kick-Off Concert

August 5
Salem Maritime Festival
Salem Willows Clown Day
Wild Fish Open Water Swim Festival
Salem Willows Firemen’s Muster
6th Annual Bridgin’ G.A.P.S. Festival

August 6
5th Annual Bridge & Back 10K Road Race
Salem Maritime Festival
Tour-A-Truck
6th Annual Bridgin’ G.A.P.S. Festival
Salsa Sundays at Peabody St. Park

August 7
Salem Pizza Tasting
Salem Community Concert Band & Community Jazz Band
The Paul Madore Chorale Summersing

August 8
Shelter to Showpiece House Tour
Story Time at the Witch House
Ice Scream Bowl

August 11
Kids Night at Salem Common

August 12
Essex Street Fair
Ice Cream Social with Woman’s Friend Society
Berklee Summer Series Concert

August 13
Essex Street Fair
16th Annual Phillips House Car Meet
S.C.E.N.E.’S Sunset Hang
Salsa Sundays at Peabody Street Park

Bring a family member. Bring a friend. Bring yourself. A great day of fun and food (did we forget to mention there will be food everywhere?) await you.

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Jul 082017
 

More than 10 traditional, quaint, and eclectic gardens are on display today until 4pm as part of the self-guided Garden Stroll hosted by the Salem Garden Club. These can be found within the private gardens of the McIntire Historic District. Also included in the tour is a stroll through the beautiful Ropes Mansion Garden.

Currently it is sunny, slightly breezy 80 degrees in Salem, perfect weather to walk amongst the flowers and as a side perk, get up close to the historical architecture to be found in the McIntire District, which encompasses an area with more than 300 historic structures. It is named after architect Samuel McIntire and includes living examples of his work including “magnificent sea captains’ houses as well as humble workers’ cottages.”

Most of these homes are privately owned and not open to the public, so don’t step on the grass and don’t look into the windows!

The tour is a fund raiser which will benefit many Salem civic projects which include:
the planting and maintenance of the Washington Street traffic island;
• the plantings of the City Hall window boxes;
• the plantings at the Blue Star Memorial on Hawthorne Boulevard;
• providing monthly flower arrangement at the Salem Public Library;
• an annual scholarship awarded to a deserving Salem High School senior.

Complimentary refreshments of lemonade and cookies will be served to strollers along the route. Local musicians and artists will be featured in several gardens. These private gardens are not handicapped accessible. Pets and carriages are not permitted.

Tickets are $20 and available at First Church, 316 Essex Street, Salem, MA. For additional info including tickets, parking and specific details visit: SalemGardenClub.com.

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Jun 292017
 

Independence Day 2017 is almost upon us and you are thinking about driving into Boston to sit on the Esplanade for the festivities. Or taking the train into Boston. Or taking the bus into Boston. And then the long ride home again. So many people; takes forever. Hmmm. Maybe this year you will sit it out? Wait, we have a very patriotic alternative. Do the 4th in style in Salem!!!

“There’s no better place to celebrate Independence Day than in historic Salem,” proclaims Mayor Kimberley Driscoll. Our July 4th Independence Day celebration takes place at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site on Derby Wharf.

We have our own connections to the beginnings of our nation. Besides all that we are known for in history, Salem is also the birthplace of the National Guard and the Salem Common itself was the site of the first muster in 1637 and continues to host the annual National Guard muster to this day.

Driscoll points out that “This year we are very excited to once again have a flyover by the 104th Fighter Wing from Barnes Air National Guard Unit.” That Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, located in Westfield, Massachusetts, proudly claims the honor of being one of the oldest flying units within the Commonwealth.

“As the birthplace of the National Guard, it is especially meaningful for Salem to have a flyover by the 104th,” explains Mayor Driscoll.

The Day’s Events

Driscoll outline’s the events of the day, “Start off bright and early at Salem Common for the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence, spend the day visiting the City’s numerous historic sites and attractions, dine at one of dozens of remarkable restaurants, and end your day at historic Derby Wharf for all of the festivities.”

Plus, there will be numerous on site food tents selling hot dogs, French fries, fried dough, kettle corn, and other fair favorites.

But, there’s more

There will be free children’s activities beginning at 5pm. with the opening of the Kids’ Space, where kids can play games, win prizes and get their faces painted. Also, stop by the MAGIC 106.7 tent for a chance to win great station prizes and get your picture taken with Garrot the Parrot from Canobie Lake Park! And don’t forget to pick up your free samples of Perfectly Free bite-sized non-dairy frozen treats too!

What about live entertainment? It all begins also at 5pm. This year Annie Brobst, who has been voted the 2016 & 2017 New England Country Music Award’s Female Artist of the Year, will be performing today’s country hits with her band on main stage.

Opening Ceremonies begin at 7:15pm when Mayor Driscoll and other local dignitaries will lead a parade down the wharf accompanied by the Salem Veterans Honor Guard and Salem Boy Scout troops. The National Anthem will be sung by members of the Salem High School’s a capella group Witch Pitch?.

Immediately following opening ceremonies Maestro Dirk Hillyer and the Hillyer Festival Orchestra (HFO) will take center stage and perform a program packed with Broadway show tunes and patriotic music featuring soprano Jacyn Tremblay and tenor Thomas Smoker.

This year, also plan to be entertained and amazed by a violin concerto to be performed by Emily Gasparyan, a 14-year old violinist who has won numerous violin competitions and has played with symphony orchestras around the globe.

For intermission entertainment, we also have some talented musicians from Salem’s Collins Middle School.

At 9:15pm, Salem ends its Independence Day celebration with a fireworks extravaganza, accompanied live by the Hillyer Festival Orchestra playing the 1812 Overture and other patriotic tunes throughout the entire fireworks display.

It is a rousing end to a day when we all come together to promote what is great about America.

“I’d also like to express a special thank you to our Skyrocket Sponsors: Footprint Power – Salem Harbor Station, Salem Five and Tropical Products, along with our Star-Spangled Sponsors: Aggregate Industries, Tache Real Estate, Market Basket, Eastern Bank, and KV Associates, and new this year, Thermal Circuits,” concludes Mayor Driscoll. “This event does not happen without their and many others support.”

Support is the key word. We are having a big birthday bash for the USA on July 4th here in Salem. Join us at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site on Derby Wharf.

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Jun 132017
 

Bridget Bishop and a few of her friends stop by the Salem Farmers’ Market

Is Bridget Bishop still relevant, over 300 years since her infamous witch trial? We would say so, considering that the interactive play, Cry Innocent, chronicling that trial is now celebrating its 25th anniversary of entertaining, educating, and engaging tourists & residents alike in Salem. To mark the event, an activity-filled weekend is planned for June 16-18 (what would an event be in Salem if it wasn’t a weekend festival?).

Kristina Wacome Stevick, President and Artistic Director, History Alive, Inc. which has produced the play since its inception, explains, “There are a lot of activities lined up to celebrate the anniversary, from stagecraft workshops and readings of new work, to a community vintage dance, to a night of Moth-style storytelling, to a big, fancy party. We wanted to celebrate the talents and current work of generations of performers, have a way to say thank you to the City of Salem and to Salem business and non-profits, to reminisce and help people know what we envision for the future.”

That “big, fancy party” she refers to involves a meal, specialty cocktails, awards, comedy, vision-casting, and live music & dancing at Ames Memorial Hall, Saturday, June 17th. Doors open at 6:30pm for cocktails and “mingling.” Dinner (by Chive Sustainable Catering) and entertainment at 7pm. Hosted by Erik Rodenhiser, the gla will feature stand-up by Will Martin, a docu-short by In The Car, storytelling awards presented by Mark Stevick, dance calling by Alex Edwards, and more.

For ticket information and the full schedule go to http://cryinnocentsalem.com/silverjubilee.

But, what has kept the play vibrant for 25 years? Let’s start with the introduction:

“The year is 1692. Bridget Bishop has been accused of witchcraft and YOU are on the Puritan jury. Hear the historical testimonies, cross-examine the witnesses and decide the verdict. Is Bridget Bishop capable of witchcraft? Play your part in history…”

And with those few words, the performers in the History Alive! troupe stepped out onto the streets of Salem to bring to life not only the trial but a living immersion into the mind set of people from the time period. Why did they say what they did? How could they think that way? Witches? Demons?

Wacome Stevick says, “I think History Alive’s–in particular Cry Innocent’s— longevity can, in part, be attributed to the variety involved. Because the audience takes on a role, every show is different. The actors also play multiple characters. This keeps a show that performs around 1,000 shows a year fresh for everybody. Also, we have wonderful people that are truly dedicated to learning as much and sharing as much as they can. They keep the show interesting for each other and themselves because they have a hunger to include new information.”

Speaking of information, we asked Kristina to share one of the most unusual elements of the play they have seen over the past 25 years.

“Meeting descendants of the accusers and the accused, who come to the show, hear the words their ancestors spoke and get to interact as a Puritan jury with the actors speaking those words and ideas is probably one of the most moving experiences of doing Cry Innocent,” she responded.

“Often descendants expect to be ashamed to admit that their ancestors brought testimony against Bridget Bishop– testimony that ultimately led to her execution. However, one of the main exercises of the show is to try to get into the heads of both the accused and the accusers in the time and the culture that THEY were living in. When that is done with the kind of open mindedness and humility that one should exercise when visiting any unfamiliar culture, descendants often walk away feeling more understanding and forgiving of their ancestors.

This doesn’t mean that executing accused witches wasn’t a horrible mistake, but that we come to the decision to send Bridget Bishop to trial (or not) with more empathy to all involved. Hopefully that understanding can lend some perspective to whatever our current concerns are. We’re always better entering a situation not assuming that we know everything about it and the people involved.”

Duration of Cry Innocent is 45 minutes. The outdoor arrest scene begins approximately 15 minutes prior. During the show, the audience may step into roles of Puritan jurors. Kids and adults alike question the accusers, examine property, read advice to the court and vote on the outcome.

For more information on Cry Innocent performances this season, check out the website.

(History Alive! after 23 years under Gordon College’s organizational umbrella became its own entity, History Alive, Inc., on August 1, 2014)

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