Population-wise (40,000), Salem is a small city but unique. It has everything you would find in a big city: a university, a hospital, a museum, a no-kill animal shelter, District Court, Superior Court, and Federal Court.
Salem is also a tourist mecca. Its harbor was once an important port, and there’s a maritime history. More famous than its maritime history is its witch history. There were no witches in 1692, but psychics and witches abound in these modern times.
Wiccan (aka- White Witches) is a peaceful philosophy that sees the divine in everything. No curses. No black magic. No broomsticks.
Halloween in Salem is like Mardi Gras in New Orleans. ‘Haunted Happenings’ is a month-long party that builds anticipation until October 31. Halloween is an important holiday for Wiccans, and the annual Witches’ Ball is held in the evening after the city’s parade.
Gallows Hill Park does exist as I described it. There are a kiddie park area, a baseball diamond, and bleachers. You can follow a dirt path to the top of the hill (like I did) where you’ll find a residential street and the Italian-American Club.
Witch Hill Road, where Zara lives, exists and borders Gallows Hill Park.
The Hawthorne Hotel is located on Hawthorne Boulevard at Washington Square. I passed a night there at a writers’ conference. Spirits live there. Trust me.
The Museum Place Mall is where and how I described it. Walking down Hawthorne Boulevard toward the harbor, there’s a funeral home near the corner of Derby Street. Not Romano Funeral Home, though.
Cross Derby Street to reach Pickering Wharf. Yes, there is a Pickering Wharf with small shops and a couple of restaurants. Laurie Cabot, Salem’s official and most famous witch, had a shop here. She does have a website so you can reach her online.
Cousin Aldo’s No-Name Restaurant does not exist. However, there is a No-Name restaurant in Boston. Dracula’s Castle is where I placed it. Though, I can’t think of any reason to bring Vlad to Salem. Further down Derby Street is the famous House of Seven Gables. The waterfront restaurant/bar where Zara and her friends meet is real.
Starbucks is where I place it. If you’ve ever been in Starbucks, you will note that I aptly described its clientele.
There was (past tense) a Strega Restaurant. Strega means ‘witch’ in Italian. The Dairy Witch does exist on Boston Street, but the traveling ice cream truck is fiction. The public library, Collins Cove, and Willows Park exist where I placed and described them.
If you’re ever in Massachusetts, check out Salem. Even better, plan to visit in October and join the party.