By Donna Thornton/News Editor
Many cities have “cemetery strolls,” said Pudden McArthur of the Forrest Cemetery “A Walk Through Time” board, but the annual Forrest Cemetery stroll is the only one that uses descendants of historical figures to share stories from the past whenever possible.
“A Walk Through Time” will be from 2 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 13. Attendees are invited to park at the old Gadsden High School parking lot and take a trolley to the cemetery. McArthur said trolleys will be running through out the event and even after it is over.
“I’m one of the last ones to leave and last year there was a trolley for me,” she said.
‘Walk Through Time’ – page 7A
There will be a guard to watch over parked vehicles at the old high school, McArthur added.
This year’s walk is the fifth, and each year something new is added, McArthur said. She said no one should be thinking, ‘I went last year, so I’ve seen it all.”
For those unfamiliar with the cemetery stroll: For this afternoon in October, 50 people buried in Forrest Cemetery will be “resurrected” to share their stories, via costumed participants – 18 of them, the descendants of those former residents of Gadsden.
This year there is a descendant coming from Virginia to portray an ancestor, and others come from Georgia and all over Alabama, McArthur said.
This year there will be 11 new characters, including Albert Rains and June Bugg.
If it rains on Oct. 13, the walk will be moved to Oct. 20.
There is no charge for “A Walk Through Time,” McArthur said, but donations are greatly appreciated – and needed. The money raised through this year’s walk will go to repairing the roof on the cemetery chapel – a structure that is on the state and national historic registers.
“It’s the only building in Alabama with a limestone roof,” McArthur said. “It’s very expensive to repair.”
People can walk through the cemetery at their own pace, stopping to listen to stories of former residents wherever a costumed figure is stationed. The stories typically will be about five minuties long.
Some are former mayors and major figures in the city’s history, but others are ordinary citizens from Gadsden’s past.
Two architects will share the story of the building of the chapel at Forrest Cemetery.
“If you’re from Gadsden or have ancestors from Gadsden,” Downtown Gadsden Inc. Director Kay Moore said, “this is one of the most interesting things you can do.”