Becoming the Witch City

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1891

Salem jeweler Daniel Low creates the "Witch Spoon" souvenir. It is credited with launching the souvenir spoon movement that sweeps the United States.

1935

Alfred Putnam Goodell and his wife begin running the old witch Goal (4 Federal Street) as a tourist attraction. Visitors tour the dungeon, read an original unpaid bill for a witch's upkeep, listen to lectures by guides, and see other "interesting exhibits."

1945

Historic Salem, Inc. begins the restoration of the Jonathan Corwin House after being threatened with demolition. The title to the property transfers to the city of Salem one year after it opened to the public as The Witch House on Memorial Day weekend in 1947. 

1953, January 22

The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller opens at the Martin Beck Theatre on Broadway

1970, June

Two episodes of Bewitched are filmed at various locations in Salem and surrounding communities. "The Salem Saga" aired on consecutive Thursdays in October of that year. October 8 was proclaimed "Bewitched Day" in Salem by then Mayor Samuel Zoll.  

1971

Laurie Cabot, an Oklahoma native, opens "A Witch Shop" at 100 Derby Street. It soon closes and in 1975, she moves to Crow Haven at 125 Essex Street, which becomes incredibly popular with tourists.  Cabot's real name is Mercedes Elizabeth Kearsey; she maintains that she is a relative on her paternal side to Jersey Witches which held the last name Cabot.

1971

Laurie Cabot initiates the annual Witches Costume Ball in the Salem Armory.

1972

The Salem Witch Museum is created by Holly and Tom Mulvihill of Marblehead and White Oak Design. 

1977, April

Laurie Cabot's continual requests to be made official city witch and "greeter" are denied by the city council. Cabot appeals directly to Governor Michael Dukakis, who awards Laurie Cabot the Patriots Award, stating, "I proclaim Laurie Cabot the Official Witch of Salem for her work with children with special needs." Cabot quickly capitalizes on the designation, advertising herself as "the Official Witch of Salem". 

1980

Salem-born entrepreneur Biff Michaud takes over operations of the Witch Museum. Under his leadership, the museum expands its marketing initiatives to the group tour and travel market, both nationally and overseas, and translates the core presentation into eight languages to accommodate increasing number of international visitors. Michaud also broadens the museums family appeal by working with the Salem Chamber of Commerce to launch Witches Weekend, a simple one day family festival. 

1982, October 28 - 31

The Salem Chamber of Commerce forms Haunted Happenings, a 4 day festival to bring tourists into the city. Features include parades, costume balls, ghost walks, a "Horribles Parade", and a haunted house. The event was well publicized and 60,000 visitors flock to Salem. McDougall Associates, a local advertising agency that started in Salem, coined the festival name and designed the poster. Parker Brothers funded the posters and accompanying brochures. 

1989

The City of Salem creates the Salem Witch Trial Tercentenary Committee to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the witch trials. 

1992

Massachusetts Attorney General, Scott Harshbarger, warns fanatic Christian fundamentalist to desist threatening the civil rights of Wiccans. 

1992, August 5

The Salem Witch Trials Memorial is dedicated by Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel. The memorial was designed by architect/artist James Cutler and Maggie Smith to be a place of respect and reflection. Arthur Miller attends opening ceremony.

1993, July 16

Hocus Pocus released in theaters (filming began in Salem October, 1992)

1995

Haunted Happenings grows to a two week long event, becoming the city's largest tourist draw, with an estimated 150,000 people visiting Salem. 

1997, October 10 - November 2

Haunted Happenings expands to a 24 day roster of spooky events. 

1999

In an effort to control the incresing number of private vehicles arriving in Salem on October 31, the MBTA organizes a special train coming to Salem called "Fright Train". Departing from North Station, the popular ride arrived in Salem in less than 25 minutes. 

October, 2000

Reverend Kenneth Stiegler, pastor at the Wesley United Methodist Church, raises more than $10,000 dollars and conscripts local seminary students to distribute 50,000 anti-Halloween tracts to Salem pilgrims. 

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2005, June 15

The TV Land "Bewitched" statue is unveiled in front of 1,500 spectators in Lappin Park. One demonstrator is arrested at the event. TV Land paid $75,000 dollars for the statue, which was created by Elliot and Ivan Schwartz of EIS Studios in Brooklyn, NY.

2011, February 17

Destination Salem (Salem’s tourist agency) unveils a new slogan and tagline for the city. Apparently, the witch hat is also suppose to depict a sailing ship. 

2017

Today, Haunted Happenings attracts over 400,000 tourists during the month of October and generates over $30 million dollars in direct local revenue. The fireworks finale marks the end to Halloween night.