By Donna Thornton/News Editor
Many have walked through the final resting place of people long gone and wondered what stories those who have gone before might have to share with people of the present, if only they could speak.
On Oct. 14 at Gadsden’s Forrest Cemetery, it may seem as though they can. The Forrest Cemetery Association will present “A Walk Through Time,” a cemetery stroll which will feature people in period dress portraying some of the most notable past residents of Gadsden.
Association member Pudden McArthur said there will be about 50 costumed storytellers, sharing first-person accounts from the lives of some past Gadsden residents. Some are historical figures, she said, and some are just people with interesting stories that should be shared.
“With some, people will hear the names and recognize things named for these people,” McArthur said.
Cemetery strolls are very popular in many places, McArthur said – just Google it, as she did, and you’d been surprised how popular they are. Here are the particulars for the Forrest Cemetery stroll: People are asked to park at the old Gadsden High School, and trolleys will take them to Forrest Cemetery between 2 and 5 p.m. Oct. 14. Visitors can set their own pace for their stroll, and golf carts will be available for those who might need assistance with the walk. Members of the Gadsden City High School Titan Ambassadors will be driving the golf carts.
“People need to understand, they won’t be able to visit every grave (with a costumed character),” McArthur said. “You have to come back next year to see the ones you miss this year.”
Along with many returning characters, she said, there are about 17 new performers. Whenever possible, McArthur said, descendants of those buried at Forrest Cemetery are recruited to tell their ancestor’s stories.
“They’re the ones who know these stories best,” she said.
Among those who will share stories from their family’s pasts are Dr. Clay Rowe, who will portray his grandfather, Dr. Mercer Rowe and Dee Grimes, who will play his grandfather, Dr. O.R. Grimes. Jack Floyd will portray his father George Floyd, who lent his name to Floyd Elementary School.
Cherie Cornelius will share the story of her great grandmother Fannie Harbin Morgan and Jane Hoffman Peak will portray her mother Mary Hoffman.
Several other new performers will be involved this year, along with those returning from past years.
Dennis Cantrell will stroll the grounds as the gravedigger, McArthur said, and Lucy Wallace Edwards will explain what many of the symbols found on gravestones mean.
McArthur said when descendants are involved they usually write the script for the first-person story of their ancestor.
There will be two architects at the Forrest Cemetery Chapel, sharing the story of how the chapel was built during the Depression, as part of the Works Progress Administration.
“We have one person who does the research and the scripts are written by others,” McArthur said, when someone outside the family is portraying the past resident.
“A Walk Through Time” is a free event, however donations to the Forrest Cemetery Association are encouraged.