February 16, 2021

Salem Winterlude – Winter Places Project

by Felicia Cheney

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Salem Main Streets and Creative Collective, in partnership with the City of Salem, created the new Salem Winterlude Initiative in December 2020, bringing light and creativity to downtown Salem during the 2020/2021 winter.

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


This collaborative project activated and enhanced the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall and adjacent public spaces, encouraging safe outdoor and physically distant opportunities for residents to explore and engage with each other throughout the downtown district.

Salem Winterlude celebrated our downtown during the holiday season, and contributed to small business support initiatives as well as community wellness during a very difficult year. This initiative ran in tandem with the Stay Local Salem campaign created by Creative Collective and promoted through Destination Salem, the Salem Chamber of Commerce, and Salem Main Streets.

“It is very important to give people a safe and welcoming space outdoors and support our Main Streets economy in these challenging times. The creative community has stepped up throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic and we are very grateful for the flexible spending allowed through this financial support of the Barr Foundation, allowing us to activate and enhance safe public spaces, while commissioning local creative professionals to enhance the activations,” says John Andrews, founder of Creative Collective.

“We have put aside so many of our usual community gatherings this winter,” added Salem Main Streets’ Executive Director, Kylie Sullivan. “Without opportunities to celebrate together physically at our annual Salem Main Streets events like the Tree Lighting, Santa’s Arrival, or New Year’s Eve, it is more important than ever that the downtown feels warm and festive, that our storefronts are bright, and that our community pride shines through wherever possible.”

Components of the Salem Winterlude project included upgrades to the usual holiday wreaths and ribbons on the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall with new programmable lights, a programmable tree topper for the Holiday Tree on Lappin Park, temporary mural backdrops created by local artists on Salem Common and Derby Square, a seasonal artistic installation at the East India Fountain in partnership with the Peabody Essex Museum, and decorated evergreens and mural backdrops by local artists for Charlotte Forten Park.



Mural Artists – Backdrops

Charlotte Forten Park – Paige Besse and Emily Larsen | E&P Designs

Salem Common – Hailey Bonia of Flourish Artistic Services

Front Street/ Artists’ Row – Meg Nichols of m.Ink studios

Mural Artists – Windows

Hailey Bonia| Flourish Artistic Services

Anna Dugan | Annadidathing

Meg Nichols | m.Ink studios

Kate Feld | Ghost Wolf Handmade

Custom Tree Topper

Joey Nicotera/ Retonica at Lappin Park

Public Art Installations

Toka and Jenn Close X Peabody Essex Museum at the East India Fountain

Programmable Lights installed by Kylie Sullivan and Salem Main Streets Volunteers

Custom Fire Pits