Oct 282015

Spice ChallengeWhat isn’t different in Salem MA during Halloween what with all the witch-stuff, ghostbusters, zombie nurses, etc.? How about these two alternative events for Friday Oct. 30th evening: the First Annual Spice Eating Challenge at Artists’ Row and the Salem Classical production Songs of the Supernatural, produced with support from Salem Main Streets and Creative Salem.

Deborah Greel, Public Art Planner for the City of Salem (Department of Planning and Community Development) describes both events as having an “appeal to tourists but definitely geared for locals too.”

The Heat is ON

Step up to the 1st Annual #Salem MA Wicked Hot Spice Tasting Challenge!!! It will be conveniently located in one of our hottest creative spaces, Artists’ Row, and hosted by Karen Scalia of Salem Food Tours (which is itself located at Artists’ Row). The Challenge will run from 6-7pm, rain or shine. Sign up sheet to be a taster available night of the event.

“The tastings will be four types of mashed chili peppers,” explains Scalia. “Four levels of hot fun – from mild, medium, hot, and SUPER HOT!”

Too afraid to try the heat??? Then just come on down to cheer the poor souls on!! Bwahahahahahaha

The chilis are being supplied by Salem Spice, which also will have them for sale during the event.

“We are thrilled to stage this free community event,” states Scalia. “It’s a fun and exciting way to start Halloween weekend in Salem, a fantastic way to celebrate Artists’ Row, and a great way to support our local fire department.”

Salem Fire Department Local 172 will be in attendance selling tee shirts to raise money for local fire station amenities (which are usually paid for out of pocket by fire-fighters).

SHU ChilAs for just what makes chili peppers such a hot deal? According to the website chilipeppermadness.com, “That spiciness we all love and crave comes from a compound called capsaicin that is found in all hot peppers. Interestingly enough, capsaicin is found in no other plant than the chili pepper. A single drop of this substance combined with 100,000 parts water is still noticeably spicy.”

As for advice when the heat is too much to beat? The website advises “Don’t Drink The Water! Pure capsaicin is soluble in alcohol but not soluble in cold water. Hence, instead of dousing the raging flame on your tongue, the water will only spread the spices around in your mouth and make the situation worse. Instead, try sugar or milk to curb that luscious heat.”

For more info, check out the Challenge website.

And if you DARE for more, The Lobster Shanty (also on Artists’ Row) will be serving some delicious spicy HOT specials to get your taste buds roaring.

Coldly Haunting Classical

A siren haunts a rock on the river Rhine.
A princess, locked away in a Bronze Room.
A charlatan conducts sham séances.
A teenage girl, driven to suicide by cruel fate

The Salem Witch Trials are not the only persecutions fixated on the supernatural. Explore dark magic and tragic heroines, set to hauntingly gorgeous music by Schubert, Berlioz, Liszt, Menotti, Lees, and Rorem, when Salem Main Streets and Salem Classical present the Salem debut of Songs of the Supernatural at the First Church in Salem (316 Essex Street) at 8pm.

Kate KostopoulosKate Kostopoulos will be the performing soprano; she is from Boston and has been pursing vocal performance for the past six years and simultaneously maintaining a career in Arts Administration.

She is a recent graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music where she received her Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance. Earlier this year Kostopoulos was a Young Artist at the Atlantic Music Festival performing opera and art song repertoire.

Brendon Shapiro will be her pianist; he is a vocal coach, musical Brendon Shapirodirector, and conductor based in Boston. Currently serving as a staff pianist at Boston University and organist for First Parish in Arlington, MA, he has additionally been hired by numerous opera companies, recitalists, choral ensembles, and religious organizations in the area.

He also is on faculty as a vocal coach at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. Shapiro holds a Master of Music degree in Collaborative Piano Performance from Boston University and a Bachelor of Music degree from the Ithaca College School of Music where he won the Mary Hayes North Piano Competition Award.

Salem Classical is the home of classical music located in the heart of the pedestrian zone of historic downtown Salem. The mission of Salem Classical is to remove the boundary between the public and performers, bringing some of the greatest music ever composed to Salem.  Audiences are invited to frequent concerts as a compliment to the overall cultural experience in the city of Salem that includes dozens of restaurants, shops, and museums. And witches, ghostbusters, etc., etc.

For more info go to the Classical Salem website.

This upcoming Friday night is the “calm before the storm,” so why not venture out for chili and classical? Only in Salem MA would saying that make any sense.

Oct 252015

halloween photos 012Fun is the operative word for Halloween day and evening this coming Saturday in Salem MA. And to make it so for event sponsors, participants, observers, and folks who aren’t even taking part, the City of Salem has put some measures into place. These can be broken into things to do/not do when you get here and for when it is time to say good night.

For the full list of rules check out the Haunted Happenings website.

Getting here should be a calculated experience. There will be numerous road closures posted on various sites and twitter accounts. Check them out for the most up-to-date info as there will be road delays, detours, and blocked streets. We’ve been here/done that for enough years to know it to be a stone-cold fact. Definitely arrive before 8:30pm.

And don’t get stuck. For example if you do decide to arrive by car and look to park at the MBTA station, be advised that it will be closed from 8pm to 1am. Keep that in mind. You won’t be able to leave early.

Speaking of the MBTA, it would be an excellent alternate source of transportation as extra trains have been put on the schedule. 

No ParkingFor if you do drive and you mistakenly or blatantly (the law does not differentiate) park in one of our many “Resident Parking” zones assigned to local residents, you will be fined and your vehicle quite possibly towed.

To make it a safe environment for all, obviously bring no weapons, real or artificial as they will be confiscated— same goes for alcohol.

When it is time to go— you will know as we put on a lively fireworks show beginning around 10:15pm and ending 10:30pm— we ask that you do go quietly into the night. There are many apartments and homes of residents on your paths exiting the city’s downtown district.

And if you had parked at the train station, (which we advised against earlier in this blog) you will not be able to get your vehicle out, as the garage will be closed from 8pm to 1am.

On the other hand, if you came by train, you have ample time to trek to the Salem Depot where the last train departs around 11pm.

Fun is the operative word for the big finale of Haunted Happenings 2015, but to make it so, everybody has to be on the same page. Be safe. Be considerate. Use common sense.

Oct 152015

Edgar_Allan_PoeWhy didn’t someone think of this before? Transporting noted master of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe and his chilling stories to Salem for an interactive event during Haunted Happenings. Makes perfect sense! Actually we did, or rather The Scarlet Letter Press & Gallery did last year and has opted for a return engagement Oct. 17.

Rebecca DeVries of Scarlet Letter Press reveals, “So many folks enjoyed the show that I was asked to repeat it this year. I actually booked the actor at the conclusion of last year’s event because it was so well received.”

The Scarlet Letter Press was participating in a national month of recognition to support the city of Boston’s installation of its life-sized Poe bronze in Oct. 2014. The Edgar Allan Poe Foundation of Boston had sought to honor Poe in the city where he was born on January 19, 1809.
 The installation was in Poe Square (intersection of Boylston Street and Charles Street South) which had been dedicated to the author in 2009.

“This year we are hosting two smaller seatings (5:45pm and 7:45pm) at the event room in Wynott’s Wands retail store on Essex Street in Salem,” she explains.

Campbell Harmon returnsPoe as Mr. Poe to perform dramatic readings of The Raven and  A Tell-Tale Heart. The latter of which was reported to have been based upon a true tale of horror from Salem’s past– and little to do with witchcraft.

Last year’s presentation garnered rave reviews.

Rebecca says “The audience was inspired by the actor’s large wealth of Poe knowledge in addition to his theatrical story telling abilities. He spent a good portion of the after show last year discussing the mysterious circumstances of Poe’s death and gave perhaps the best theory I have heard to date. The audience was thrilled to participate with their own theories!”

Also note that Scarlet Letter Press & Gallery is offering a $5 online coupon code which makes tickets only $20 each. Code is: OCT15.

For more info or tickets go to TSLPress.com or call 978-741-1850.

Oct 062015

Salem is going to the dogs, and we couldn’t be happier about it! Salem Main Streets is excited to be working with Salem Pet Photo, the New England Dog Biscuit Company, Creative Salem, It’s Reigning Cats-n-Dogs, and a number of other community partners to introduce the first annual Howl-o-ween Parade, to be held on Sunday, Oct. 11 at 1 pm on Artists’ Row.

People in pet costumes? That’s not unusual, at least for this city. No, this event will feature pets as participants/stars in a parade and costume contest with prizes! Howl-o-ween will also include a pet photo booth, some games, and an area with information about local rescues and pet-focused downtown businesses.

howl-o-weenv2“There have been many wonderful October pet events in the past,” says Kylie Sullivan, Executive Director of Salem Main Streets, “but I didn’t see anything planned for this year. I really wanted to do something special that would engage our residents, appeal to our visitors, and celebrate our local businesses.”

She adds, “Salem is such a pet-friendly community; it seemed like a no-brainer that we needed a pet parade during Haunted Happenings.”

Pets of all species are welcome, but should be well-behaved and comfortable at a busy event where there are likely to be many dogs.

“I think the City of Salem’s Artists’ Row is the perfect venue for Howl-o-ween, and not just because it’s a safe space for the attendees,” explains Sullivan. “From the pet-inspired works at Diane Hoffman DINO Textiles to the very dog-friendly Lobster Shanty, there are such great partners on the Row to play with for an event like this.”


Costume ideas at Penelope’s (now inside Coon’s)

This is a free event, though attendees wishing to participate in the parade will be asked to register at the event to make note of their pet’s name for judging and verify that all required vaccinations are up-to-date.

In addition, Salem Main Streets is working with Creative Salem & It’s Reigning Cats-n-Dogs on a special social media contest for the “Black Cat of Salem.” Details to come!


Oct 012015

Biz Baz HatsLooking for that special gift that you just can’t find in a department store? Perhaps even hand-crafted? With a touch of the weird? Then, let us tell you about the Haunted Biz Baz, Saturday, Oct. 3rd & Sunday, Oct. 4th (weather permitting).

Seriously, if Salem MA didn’t have a spooky-themed street fair, how else would we kick off the first weekend of our month-long Haunted Happenings celebration of the season of Halloween? And what better way than to provide an additional enticement for visitors to just walk around town than to see the street-side vendors along with the brick and mortar stores.

Presented by the Salem Chamber of Commerce, this annual event, known as the Haunted Biz Baz has attracted tens of thousands of visitors over the last decade. What you’ll discover is a diverse mix of jewelry, crafts, handmade items, and just outright strange stuff, plus the Chamber adds a few street musicians along the way to liven the event even more so.

Past years have averaged 90 vendors, giving the shopping public a really great chance to ‘magically’ uncover some good bargains.

The Haunted Biz Baz can be found all along the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall and adjacent streets Saturday from 10am to 8pm and Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Most vendors take credit cards, but it is advisable to bring cash for the odd item. And we expect there to be a few that might catch your eye.

For more information or if you have questions, please contact the Salem Chamber of Commerce at 978-744-0004 or e-mail at info@salem-chamber.org.