By Claire Crean
I heard a lot about the historic Salem Willows Park and all the activities people can do there. On the hot summer day in June, I got to see the oceanfront park in Salem, MA for myself. The area originally got its name because of the beautiful willow trees that were planted there in 1801, creating beauty and desirable shade for the community. With the high temperature reaching the 90s that day, those trees were the reprieve that we needed. Others had the same idea — the park was booming.
It was a wholesome feeling to see friends and family enjoying a wonderful day in the summer after a stressful year. People relaxed on blankets on the grassy hills, others were having picnics, and some spent the day in their bathing suits splashing in the water. There was laughter and playful pets everywhere I looked. However, a good majority of the people were playing carnival and arcade games.
I could not believe my eyes when I saw a carousel. The colorfully decorated horses and ornaments on the amusement ride transported me back to simpler times. I gave my boyfriend, Jon, a look that seemed to say, “Are you in?” He did not return the excitement. But then the ticket master said, “You should do it!” I smiled so big because I knew we were getting on, plus it was only one dollar each. With the help of a little step stool, I climbed onto the magnificent circus horse of my choice and waited for the machine to spin. The loud music and speed on the carousel took us aback. I was smiling even bigger and could not believe how fun it was! It had been ages since I rode on a ride like that, but I was very happy I did it. I could tell my boyfriend was very happy we did it as well.
Not only was I brought back in time by the adorable children’s rides, but there were also mini-golf and arcade games. Jon remembered visiting here as a child and loved the rides and games — there is much to do for young children! This happy memory that sticks with him and many other people in the community. I noticed how they keep the classic touch of arcade games by letting each machine dispense paper tickets. I saw a young girl gleefully pull at least 50 tickets out of the skeeball machine; it made me smile. The prize desk was busy with children who were elated to trade their many tickets for a toy, candy, or even a makeshift plane—which is what my boyfriend brought home.
I would like to emphasize how great the food was at the Salem Willows. I ordered a Steak and Cheese Sub, and it was truly delicious. My boyfriend ordered the Chicken Parm Sub, which he thoroughly enjoyed as well, claiming it was the ideal “chicken to bread ratio.” We sat at an exceptional spot near the coast as we ate; it felt like the epitome of a perfect day. But the most sought-out food at the Salem Willows is the Chop Suey Sandwich. Many of our family members and friends rave about the eggrolls.
As we were getting ready to leave, I spotted a tree that contained signatures emblazoned on the trunk. We had to take a photo because it was too magnificent not to capture (although we do NOT condone defacing trees). It shows how many people have explored the area or wanted to capture the memory for posterity’s sake. It’s fitting because history and tradition pair together beautifully at this oceanfront gem. It is a spectacular place to spend the summer for picnics, playing arcade games or riding fun amusement rides. Many people kept encouraging us to visit the Salem Willows, and now I know why.