Cards on the table. Every community is suffering from economic losses due to COVID fears and shutdowns. Salem Ma has been no different. Except for now when community organizations are fighting back with initiatives. Salem Main Streets and Creative Collective, in partnership with the City of Salem, have launched Salem Winterlude. The goal is “to bring light and creativity to downtown Salem this winter.” 

Translation: new holiday lights, public art, holiday installations, window decorations, and selfie stations! 

Have you ever visited the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall? There is a fantastic brick walkway that leads you to the Mall and all the eclectic shops. This collaborative project is designed to activate and enhance the Mall and surrounding public spaces. Shoppers are being encouraged to explore outdoor opportunities alone or to engage with each other, at safe distances throughout the downtown district.

Salem Winterlude will run in tandem with the “Stay Local Salem” campaign created by Creative Collective and currently being promoted through Destination Salem, the Salem Chamber of Commerce, and Salem Main Streets. The Salem Winterlude project will continue and adapt all winter long. 

For example, there will be an upgrade of new programmable LED lights to the traditional holiday wreaths & ribbons on the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall. After the holidays, the lights will remain on the poles to brighten the area during the normally darker (lighting and economic-wise) January season.

Another plus, besides encouraging more consumer street traffic to local merchants, is that local artists are being drafted into the initiative:

  • Temporary mural backdrops will be created by local artists to be featured on the Salem Common and at Derby Square. 
  • A seasonal artistic installation will be featured at the East India Fountain in partnership with the Peabody Essex Museum.
  • Decorated evergreens and mural backdrops by local artists will be on display at Charlotte Forten Park.

The partnership received a Winter Placemaking grant through Bench Consulting’s “Winter Places” program with funding support from the Barr Foundation.

Many businesses will be participating in this holiday campaign. You should as well. It’s a great win-win: fighting the winter blues by shopping at small businesses— that are quite often owned by your friends and neighbors.