More Tricks Than Treats

Although October was an awful month for me personally, we were able at the last minute to take our trip to my favorite Halloween destination, Salem, Massachusetts. In retrospect, the trip was nice except for Halloween itself.


I realize that the holiday fell on a Saturday, meaning I expected a large crowd. I have been there before on a Saturday, but this was unlike anything I had ever experienced.

What salvaged Halloween was the fact that we purchased tickets for an evening ghost tour before they were sold out for Halloween night. That was the only thing perfect about an imperfect day.


We ate breakfast at our favorite local spot, Red’s Sandwich Shop. Afterward, we strolled a while down Essex Street and surrounding streets. We were hungry again from all the walking, so around 2:30 p.m. we started looking for a place to have lunch. This started the decline of our day.

Everything was mobbed, and I mean everything. We waited in a long line just to get some pizza, only to be told they were only serving cheese pizza that day when we finally made it to the counter. If it doesn’t have something on it, I’m not eating it, as I don’t care for mozzarella cheese anyway.

We tried another place that served pizza but was more of a restaurant. At lunchtime there was a three hour wait. Huh?

We made our way to Longboards, a venue on the wharf. A nice couple shivering at a shaded outside table told us to grab the adjacent table, and a server would come out to take our order. Since there was no place to move inside the eatery, we took our seats on the cold metal chairs. We made small talk with the friendly people to pass the time until the server appeared. It turns out there was only one on duty on Halloween.

It was a good place to see the various costumes. We saw Forrest Gump and Jenny, along with Flo from Progressive. There was a man and woman dressed as ketchup and mustard, walking their furry hotdog on a leash.

The food at Longboards was very good. We dove into a pile of seasoned tater tots. Any place that serves tater tots as an appetizer is awesome. My flatbread BBQ pizza was piled with pork and chicken, and it was delicious. If you are ever in the area, visit Longboards.

With full bellies we made our way back to the hotel, to change into our costumes to join in the “fun” in the town. Soon after, a new prisoner and Michael Myers hit the streets. My costume was comfy, and with 4 shirts, 3 pairs of pants, and 2 pairs of socks, I was able to stroll the streets sans coat. I did pick up a pair of black gloves to complete the ensemble from the army supply store in town.

As it turned out, strolling about town was about all we could do. There were lines to get in many of the wonderful shops. Since we had been there a few times before, we held off on shopping until the following day, but it was a bummer not to visit our favorite witch shops on Halloween.

Halloween Protesters

Halloween Protesters

We took our fun ghost tour then sought dinner. Huge mistake. We knew the streets would be cleared at 10:30 p.m. after the fireworks. The previous year when Halloween was on a Friday we had no problem getting a late dinner following the festivities. This time our restaurant of choice had a five hour wait just for the undesirable outside seating. To make matters worse, the venues were not allowed to have lines outside their doors past 10:30 p.m. even if you were willing to wait.

What followed was an apocalyptic scene. The starving masses descended on a poor, unsuspecting Wendy’s. It was chaos, tables were moved aside to make way for the sea of hungry humanity. Trash littered the floor. I’ve never seen anything like it. A manager walked the line writing orders on paper, which were still wrong when we received our food. I was so peeved by the time we walked back to our hotel that I didn’t eat any of it and just went to bed.

If all this weren’t bad enough, the final nail in the coffin came from the hotel when we checked out two days later. We could only reserve a room for Halloween 2016 (on a Monday due to leap year) if we paid $400 more for one night less than we paid this year. Unless you agree to their new package, you can’t stay there. Did I mention there was a $500 non-refundable deposit due now to hold the reservation, with the balance due in March? This pricing also affects two other weekends in October. Sorry, I don’t need to attend a Halloween party with strangers, passes for attractions I’ve seen several times, and vouchers for overpriced fare in the hotel restaurant. I love this hotel and recommend it, I just hope they see how this new package is turning away repeat customers.

I could go next year on my birthday, 11 days before Halloween, but it’s not the same. We could choose a place to stay outside of Salem, but commuting into town can be troublesome. The bottom line is my happy place all but told me there was no Great Pumpkin, and tossed me out of the pumpkin patch. Looks like next year we will be home for Halloween. Trick or treat!