The Newnan Times-Herald

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Oak Hill Cemetery Tour will have an in-person and virtual option


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Sep. 15, 2020 - 4:41 PM

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Encounter and engage with those from Newnan’s past during the fifth annual Oak Hill Cemetery Tour, "Hallowed Ground," from 4-7 p.m. Oct. 24.

This year, virtual tours using a personal device are an option for Oct. 23 and Oct. 30. All three tour dates include dinner, live music and a tour of the cemetery, according to a press release for the event.

In the interactive, immersive experience of Oak Hill Cemetery on Oct. 24, actors enthrall guests with lively, engaging tales of Newnan's rich past. Tours depart every 20 minutes from Dunc’s BBQ Kitchen where ticket holders will enjoy dinner and a performance by the New Orleans style jazz band, Mayhayley’s Grave.

On the virtual tour Friday nights Oct. 23 and 30, guests have dinner and hear tunes performed live by Jimmy Bass or The DiPlacidos. The 2020 tour benefits Bridging The Gap and Coweta F.O.R.C.E.

“We love being in Newnan and celebrating this fantastic town,” Steve Duncan, owner of Dunc’s BBQ Kitchen, said in the release. “This is a fun, engaging and safe way to get folks out for a fall evening outdoors. We look forward to making this a memorable night for everyone and especially for being able to raise money for two very worthwhile local nonprofits that I personally think do tremendous work.”

The Oak Hill Cemetery Tour focuses on Newnan residents of the 19th and 20th centuries. Featured graves in the 2020 tour include: the matriarch and patriarch of the Cole family portrayed by Melissa and Dean Jackson; Dr. W.A. Huffaker, laid to rest in 1908 and portrayed by Robert Seymour; representatives from the Farmer Street and Pauper cemeteries performed by Taj Stephens and Joe Arnotti; pandemic victims of the early 20th century by Frankie Hardin; and a certain well-known clairvoyant will make a guest appearance courtesy of Dawn Campion.

Other unique experiences in the “Hallowed Ground” tour include song and graceful movement, plus a few more intriguing surprises, according to the release.

"This tour grows in popularity each year. People so look forward to it,” said Oak Hill Cemetery Tour Director Larisa Scott. “In this fifth year of producing the event, it’s a thrill to work with Dunc’s BBQ again. They are sponsoring the event along with other partners and will provide a delicious meal for tour-goers, as well as a place outside of their restaurant to spread out and enjoy live music.”

After checking in at the parking lot behind Dunc’s BBQ Kitchen and connecting with an assigned tour guide, guests enter the cemetery through a gate across the street. Local humorist Joanna Webster, also known as “Lee St. John” is the 2020 Gate Keeper. Posed as a sassy cemetery contessa, she will open the tour with a brief history of Oak Hill.

Additional performers include dancers with Southern Arc Dance, local musician John McGee, and others. This educational event is a unique opportunity for ticket holders to experience Oak Hill in a dynamic way, Scott said.

Tickets for the in-person tour night, Oct. 24, include a barbecue dinner from Dunc’s catering tent, a guided tour of the cemetery and the Mayhayley’s Grave music experience. This is a family friendly event; however, it is not recommended for very young children.

Tickets on the virtual tour evenings, Oct. 23 and Oct. 30, include live music at Dunc’s by Jimmy Bass and The DiPlacidos respectively, a barbecue dinner from Dunc’s catering tent, and a virtual tour of the cemetery using a personal hand held device.

While the tour takes place near Halloween, the tone and atmosphere will remain one of respect and reverence, according to the release. By highlighting Newnan’s Oak Hill Cemetery, the stories of the deceased are perpetuated and the memory of these former citizens celebrated.

“The event brings life to a historic area of town that has much to explore,” Scott said.

The guided walking tour lasts approximately 90 minutes and begins and ends in the parking lot at Dunc’s BBQ Kitchen. Mayhayley's Grave, Jimmy Bass and The DiPlacidos will play in the parking lot to the right of the restaurant.

Tickets for the in-person tour are $30 for adults and $20 for children ages 12 and younger. Space on Oct. 24 is limited, so it is recommended to book early. Virtual tour tickets for Oct. 23 and Oct. 30 are $20 for adults and $15 for children.

Purchase tickets at eventbrite.com , by visiting Dunc’s BBQ Kitchen, the Coweta County Visitor’s Center, Morgan’s Jewelers downtown or Vinylyte Records. For more information call 678-416-3121 or 404-290-8174.