Nov 172015


As many of you know — or may not know — Salem Main Streets is responsible for a fair share of the holiday fun and cheer to be found/experienced in downtown Salem in November & December. But, as you can well imagine, it is far too much for one person to orchestrate, and way more fun to do with friends! Therefore, here are just a few (seriously) of our upcoming volunteer needs.

Ribbon Wrapping around downtown – this Saturday, Nov. 21
9 am – Ribbon pre-measuring and cutting – Salem Main Streets office, 265 Essex Street
10 am to 12 pm – Meet at East India Fountain on Essex Street Mall
Needed – as many as possible!
Kylie Sullivan, Executive Director of Salem Main Streets reveals, “This is one of my favorite volunteer days of the year – it’s always cold and blustery, but we always have the best group of people, and the more people, the faster we go!  Volunteers should be able to handle the cold for 2 hours (while moving around); ability to climb ladders comfortably is a plus, and ‘ability’ to bring your own ladder is even better!”

Salem Winter Market – November – this Sunday, Nov 22.
1:30 to 3 pm and 6:30 to 8 pm
217 Essex Street
Needed – 4 to 6 people
We need help unloading and setting up vendors for our indoor winter market, in addition to breaking down and loading out at the end of the evening. Volunteers should ideally be able to lift up to 25 pounds.

Santa’s Arrival at Hawthorne and Holiday Tree Lighting at Lappin Park, Friday, Nov. 27
5 pm to 7 pm
Needed – 2 or 3 volunteers
We’re combining two beloved annual events into one night this year – and that means it will be even harder for Kylie to be everywhere at once!  We could use a couple extra hands to help carry and set up/break down tables and sound systems at the different sites. Again, volunteers should be relatively able to handle the cold for 2 hours, and need to be able to lift and carry tables, sound equipment, etc.

Salem Winter Market – December, Saturday, Dec. 19
11:30 to 1 pm and 4:30 to 6 pm
217 Essex Street
Needed – 4 to 6 volunteers
We need help unloading and setting up vendors for our indoor winter market, in addition to breaking down and loading out at the end of the evening. Volunteers should ideally be able to lift up to 25 pounds.

New Year’s Eve LAUNCH! Thursday, Dec. 31
2:30 pm to 7
Old Town Hall, 32 Derby Square
Needed – As many as possible!
Kyle requests, “Help us ring in the New Year at Old Town Hall!  The City of Salem and Salem Main Streets are teaming up to throw a New Year’s Eve party at Old Town Hall, with live music and family-friendly activities.  There will be an early countdown promptly at 6 pm.”

Volunteers are needed for a variety of jobs:

  • Set up (2 to 4pm): Volunteers should be able to lift up to 25 pounds.
  • Greeters (4 to 6 pm): Greet people at the door and collect optional donations.
  • Craft activity support (4 to 6 pm): Help activity leaders as needed.
  • Break down (5:45 to 7pm): Volunteers should ideally be able to lift up to 25 pounds.

One other thing, Kyle adds, “Have an idea for a fun (and inexpensive) NYE activity that you would like to lead? Even better – just let me know.”

If you are interested in filling any of these needs, please contact her by email at, or by phone at 978-744-0004, or in person at 265 Essex Street.

Just think of all those happy faces on kids & adults at events where you gave a little of your time.

Sep 082015

Info Booth 1When visitors come to Salem MA in October, they do so armed not only with a printed map and an on-line set of references on cell phone or tablet, they also have direct, face to face contact with the Salem Main Streets (SMS) corps of volunteers whose goal is to get visitors where they want to go in town and enjoy the visit. We’d like you to join our team.

Last year alone the SMS volunteers assisted over 20,000 visitors during the weekends and holidays in October.

“We are looking for volunteers with enthusiasm for Salem to help greet visitors at the Downtown Salem Information Booth in October,” states Kylie Sullivan, Salem Main Streets Executive Director.

Volunteers will staff the booth which will sit at the beginning of the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall; they will hand out maps and provide information about Salem’s wide variety of attractions, events, and businesses.

All volunteers are asked to be available for a minimum of two shifts (each shift is for two hours) and will be required to complete a one hour orientation session. The orientation will take place on Saturday, September 19 at 9:30 am at the National Park Service Regional Visitor Center.

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. A free trolley tour will be available before the informational session, courtesy of Salem Trolley.

Info Booth 2Volunteers are needed for the following dates: October 1 (Parade night), 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12 (Columbus Day Weekend), 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 30, 31 (Halloween Night), and November 1.

Adds Kylie, “We are also looking for multi-lingual volunteers to assist the many international visitors who come to Salem. If you have availability during some of these days, enjoy helping visitors by showing them your enthusiasm for our cultured and historic city, and want to make it fun and easy for visitors to explore all of Salem’s sites and attractions, please join us!”

For more information or to become a volunteer please contact Kylie Sullivan, Salem Main Streets’ Executive Director, at 978-744-0004 x15 or This program is a partnership between Salem Main Streets, the National Park Service, the City of Salem, Destination Salem, and the Salem Chamber of Commerce.

Jul 252015

Let’s repeat three words. LARGEST. SAILING. SALEM. Our seaport community was a key player in the early days of this country’s maritime exploration and trading. And it’s nice to see that our connection to the water continues as more than 400 junior sailors from around the country are expected to participate in the 2015 United States Optimist Dinghy Association (USODA) Optimist Dinghy New England Championship in Salem, Aug. 4-6 from Winter Island.

SailingThis is the largest junior sailing regatta in the United States, with sailors between the ages of 9 – 14. You noticed we didn’t say “sailors” to qualify the reference. These young people are every part of the word.

As an example just look at Sail Salem, which is the local host. It offers an educational program for children that promotes positive life skills and values through the sport of sailing. Founded in 2008, Sail Salem has introduced sailing to over 1,000 children from Salem and surrounding towns.

And it’s not just a one-time summer thing. Children have grown up through the program, from beginner, to intermediate sailor, to counselor in training, to sailing coach. The majority of a junior instructors are former students of Sail Salem.

According to Sail Salem, “Lessons are conducted in Salem Harbor off Winter Island to bring the love of sailing to many children who would not have had the opportunity to be on a boat.”

Adults are also encouraged to sail and evening lessons for all levels are available throughout the summer.

No wonder the 2015 Regatta is being held here. Previous competitions have been held in Newport, Rhode Island, and Portland, Maine

What does this have to do with the Downtown District, which is what we usually talk about? We expect a sizable percentage of those 400 sailors and families to explore Salem either before or after the regatta. We would like them to feel welcome. Spectators interested in watching the races from the water will find regatta tours at Sea Shuttle and Mahi Mahi Harbor Cruises.  Charter boats are available through McLaughlin Boat Works and Zim Sailing. Regatta accommodations options can be found at

One other thing. Sail Salem is still looking for volunteers to help with some of the on-land activities. Contact Pat Connolly-Atkins at if you would be interested in helping.

Sail Salem and the 2015 USODA New England Championship Regatta are sponsored by Cabot Wealth Management.

Complete regatta information can be found at

Jul 132015

hitchbotIf you’ve driven a vehicle for enough years or miles, then you’ve seen all kinds of hitchhikers. Young, old, attractive and scarey. One thing they had in common was that they were all human. But setting off across America soon will be hitch-Bot, a robot hitching its way across America (he made it through Canada last year). And the launch party will be on Thursday, July 16, 6-9pm at our own Peabody Essex Museum during PEM/PM, the museum’s monthly evening party series.

In celebration of the season, the theme for July is Take Back Summer, with an opportunity to rediscover classic and wild ways to have fun, while also taking advantage of after-hours access to museum exhibitions. And what better tie-in is a summer road-trip?

On Thursday, July 16, the party-going public will also hear from hitchBOT’s co-creators. The next day hitchBOT will bid them farewell on a nearby highway as it begins its adventure by putting up its thumb to ask for a ride. The final destination is the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

hitchBOT is an outgoing and charismatic robot that began hitchhiking in July 2014. In less than four weeks, hitchBOT charmed its way into rides across Canada, depending on the help of kind strangers. hitchBOT cannot move by itself — except for its hitchhiking thumb — but can converse thanks to Cleverscript speech technology, which allows it to answer questions about where it comes from or its favorite pastimes.

hitchBOT’s family consists of a collaborative, interdisciplinary team of researchers from the fields of visual arts, engineering, computer science and communication. The project was originally co-designed by Dr. David Harris Smith, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies and Multimedia at McMaster University (Hamilton), and Dr. Frauke Zeller, assistant professor in the School of Professional Communication at Ryerson University (Toronto), to see whether robots could trust humans.

People picked HB up and took it to bars, diners, concerts and then left it on the side of the road for someone else to take it further on down the road.

For example, hitchBOT hung out with the British Columbia rock band The Wild, which took it to their next performance. Another time it was taken to a wedding.

No one broke it, defaced it or stole it.

“hitchBOT was very well received as it made its way across Canada, Germany and the Netherlands – proving that robots can indeed trust humans,” said Dr. Zeller. “Given that hitchBOT is built out of a bucket, we thought it would be only natural if we let it have a bucket list for this exciting new adventure.”

hitchbot bucket listThe list includes Times Square in New York City, Millennium Park in Chicago, Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

In the PEM blog Connected, the creators commented “In the case of hitchBOT, we have launched a type of robotic proxy, set forth not to explore the surface of Mars, but to explore a cultural terrain here on earth that is underwritten by evolved human curiosity, empathy and altruism. hitchBOT literally rides from place to place on a tide of goodwill, developing a personal history of face-to-face interpersonal interactions and a trail of social media participation. ”

Fans are encouraged to follow hitchBOT’s journey at, and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. hitchBOT also invites users to share their hitchhiking stories and pictures using #hitchbot on Twitter and Instagram.

PEM’s evening parties, with music and dance performances, lectures and art-making stations take place on the 3rd Thursday of the month. Admission is free to PEM members and Salem residents (with ID), while nonmembers pay $10 at the door. There will be a cash bar and special small plates menu items available courtesy of the Hawthorne Hotel.

(Cover photo courtesy David Harris Smith)

Jun 092015

No sooner does the energy of the Salem Arts Festival fade from Derby Square / Artist’s Row area than the Salem Farmers’ Market moves in with just as much fanfare, sounds, sights, colors and characters. This Thursday, from 3-7 pm you can get fresh with a veggie, fruit, etc. at Derby Sq on Front St. — rain or shine.

A farmers’ market allows growers the opportunity to market directly to consumers without having to deal with a food broker; they can also explain to customers how the food is grown and even advise on preparation. It’s a win/win.

That is especially true this year as we have a bumper crop of farms that will be delivering diverse produce.

SFM1Clark Farm
Gibney Gardens
Grant Family Farm
Heavens Harvest Farm
Honey Pot Farm (new!)
Long Hill Orchard
Maitland Mountain Farm
Wally’s Vegetables

But, as has been said before, this isn’t your grandmother’s Farmers’ Market. It’s produce and more.

Things You Can Eat (or drink)
A & J Lobsters
All Fruit, Inc. (new!)
Auntie Elsie’s Oatmeal Crisps
Cookie Monstah
Far From The Tree
Fishwives Specialty Foods
Jodi Bee Bakes
Grassy Roots (new!)
Milk and Honey
Mill River Winery
Rowand Seafood
Stillman’s at the Turkey Farm
Sweet Lydia’s
Valicenti Pasta Farm
When Pigs Fly

Other Things To Bring You Joy
Teas, Herbs & Spices : Just Herbals (new!); Salem Spice

Jewelry: Heritage Handmade

Bed, Bath, Home Products: Salem Soapworks

Plus music. Don’t forget the music. Everything from folk to rock, Celtic tunes, sea shanties, and classical to name just a few. Keep checking this list as we constantly update the performance schedule.

The Salem Farmers’ Market participates in SNAP and accepts the EBT card. SFM is still looking for volunteers to help with set up and break down of the market. Click here for more info.

Salem Farmers’ Market is a Salem Main Streets project in partnership with the City of Salem, the Salem Chamber of Commerce, and Mass in Motion Salem.