While international tourists are shaking their collective fists at the closed gates of National Parks, another faction within the travel industry is grappling with the ugly effects of the government shutdown: witches, warlocks and their looky-loo friends in Salem, Mass.
After all, October is usually an extra-magical time of year for the hometown of the infamous 1692 witch trials. The month-long “Haunted Happenings,” which includes a psychic fair and witchcraft expo, conjures up about $30 million in revenue for the town, according to a recent AP article.
But here's the fly, or frog, in the ointment: Salem’s visitors center—the nerve center for the event—is run by the currently defunct National Park Service.
“People have stepped up—we got a makeshift visitor center set up, we brought in portable toilets,” Mayor Kim Driscoll told reporters. “So anyone needing information isn't gonna be lost.”
And let’s be honest: “information,” as many travelers know, means “restrooms.” Even the most powerful warlock has to answer nature’s call every now and then.
Indeed, one tourist from Illinois told reporters that the shutdown has cast a pall, if not a spell, on her visit to Salem, in large part due to the dismal port-a-potties stationed outside the closed visitor center. She expressed hope that members of Congress would come partake in the Salem port-a-potties themselves, “because that's where they belong.”
Leave it to the local magical entrepreneurs, however to see a way out for our broken government. Local warlock Christian Day told reporters that “If this shutdown doesn't end soon, the Salem witches may have to get together and do a little magic to push it along.”
It’s certainly worth a try.