Laurel Hill Cemetery raises the dead to celebrate life

Soul Crawl by Mark Aksoyblog
Laurel Hill was lit up for last year's Soul Crawl held in October. (Photo Credit: Mark Aksoy via Facebook)

Cemeteries have always been a place of mourning where you go to remember and grieve for your loved ones. They are usually a solemn place where you carefully walk around the tombstones trying not to disturb the dead. The Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery, however, believe that cemeteries are as much for the living as for the dead and that by bringing the past to life we celebrate life as much as we honor the dead. From 5K runs to picnics, they show that despite our grief, life must always go on. There will be no tiptoeing in this grave site. Laughter, music, and all types of fun are encouraged.

Founded in 1836 and considered a National Historic Landmark, East Falls' Laurel Hill Cemetery is the resting place to many important historic figures, and some of them were known for their handsome visages and built physiques as well. In the tour, Hotties of Laurel Hill: Dead, Gone & Extremely Handsome, on Thursday, Aug. 21 at 6:30 p.m., you can hear stories about heartthrobs of bygone eras including Civil War soldiers and Victorian inventors.

If you prefer visiting cemeteries in the daylight hours, at 10 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 22, you can get a colorful overview of the cemetery’s history during  Laurel Hill: The Hot Spots & Storied Plots. Learn more about the important role it plays in history and in the local community.

On Saturday night, Aug. 23 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., you can help honor all our veterans during Under A Crescent Moon: Summer Open House and Veterans’ Night of Illumination. Bring a picnic, stroll through the grounds and check out the special illumination display.

The one time of year that we associate graveyards with spooky fun and not just sadness is, of course, Halloween, so of course you know that Laurel Hill will be alive with some spooky fun.

On Thursday, Oct. 9, a murderer will be on the loose in Laurel Hill masquerading as an innocent mourner, and you will need to use your sleuthing skills to uncover the truth during Over My Dead Body: Murder Mystery in a Cemetery. Philadelphia playwright Loretta Vasile is bringing her The Candlelight Murders to the tombs of Laurel Hill which were an inspiration for the creation of her stories. The show starts at 7 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 12, you can give yourself a healthy scare by joining zombies and vampires and other creatures of the night on The Rest in Peace 5K Run in the cemetery for a race around the headstones in the moonlight. Hopefully no reaching hands will trip you up. Everyone is encouraged to get in the spirit by dressing up in costume. The run starts at 5 p.m. and the after-party will commence at 6 p.m. There will be free beer and refreshments and live entertainment. The rain date is Friday, October 10 at 7 p.m.

Then on Friday, Oct. 24, the Friends of Laurel Hill will host their annual Gravedigger’s Ball at the Crystal Tea Room in the historic Wanamaker’s Building in Center City.  Enjoy cocktails, hors d’oevres and a tapas style dinner reception along with live entertainment, an auction and a raffle. Live it up for the night while also helping support the educational and environmental programs of the cemetery.

For the most current listing of the events at Laurel Hill Cemetery, make sure you check its website regularly.