The partial US federal government shutdown is riling witches and visitors alike in Salem, the Massachusetts city that held the notorious witch trials of 1692, where officials have lined up dozens of volunteers and some portable toilets to replace services lost when the National Park Service closed its visitor centre.
Salem mayor Kim Driscoll said last week that the timing of the shutdown could not be worse for the city, which attracts a quarter of its annual visitors during October’s “Haunted Happenings”.
The month-long event – featuring daily Halloween trick-or-treats, a psychic fair and witchcraft expo, as well as numerous special events – generates $30 million (R300m) for the city.
The government shutdown, however, has forced the National Park Service to close its Salem visitor centre. The facility provides information on historic maritime sites and other local attractions and has public restrooms.
Verna Hahn from Kelowna in Canada said: “This is once in a lifetime we are going to be here. We are not coming back, so it’s a lot of dollars the city is going to be losing if we are not here.”
Christian Day, one of Salem’s better known warlocks, said he shared everyone’s frustration with the impasse that has shut down a range of government programmes. “If this shutdown doesn’t end soon, the Salem witches may have to get together and do a little magic to push it along.” – Sapa-AP