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Cemetery Walk brings history to life

Kerwn Shaw portrays John Rivenburg during Gibson Memorial Library's Graceland Cemetery Walk in September 2017. This year's cemetery walk is being held 5 p.m. Saturday at Calvary Cemetery in Creston, with a rain date set for Sunday.
Kerwn Shaw portrays John Rivenburg during Gibson Memorial Library's Graceland Cemetery Walk in September 2017. This year's cemetery walk is being held 5 p.m. Saturday at Calvary Cemetery in Creston, with a rain date set for Sunday.

Following the success of the Cemetery Walk in Graceland Cemetery last year, Gibson Memorial Library is ready to introduce Creston residents to a few more characters from the town’s history.

The second annual Creston Cemetery Walk will be at 5 p.m. Saturday at Calvary Cemetery with a rain date set for Sunday. Walkers are encouraged to bring chairs so they can sit while they enjoy the presentations.

“A cemetery walk is an interactive tour of a cemetery featuring interpreters at several grave sites,” said Gibson Memorial Library Director David Hargrove. “This is something I learned about three years ago at the Library Association conference where there was a panel of librarians who had started cemetery walks in their communities and I though what a cool idea to do in Creston.”

Hargrove said he initially thought cemetery walks were more like fitness walks in which participants were given a map pointing to grave sites of various individuals who had an impact of some kind within the community. When he realized it was more of an event, he was intrigued.

During a cemetery walk, individuals meet with a character from the history of an area with the help of an actor, who has done extensive research on his or her character and brings that character back to life.

“We did get some assistance from the Union County Genealogical Society researching our biographies,” said Hargrove, “although, usually we just get the rudiments of those and then the person who’s interpreting the particular story will follow up with that.”

Characters included in the walk at Calvary Cemetery include Harry and Margaret Coen, founders of Coen Furniture and supporters of a variety of organizations in Creston, a former Creston fire chief named John McCaffrey, William Hawks who was one of the original founders of the Catholic Church in Creston, physician, mayor and Iowa state tax assessor John Reynolds and Sydney and Barbara Strauss, merchants from the Creston area who were deeply involved in the Catholic Church.

Hargrove said members of Holy Spirit Catholic Church would recognize the names.

“We’re hoping for a good turnout from their congregation, in addition to the good turnout that we have,” said Hargrove. “I think we have about 50 tickets sold so far, and generally folks are late in buying tickets to events in Creston. We’ll also be admitting folks, selling tickets if you will, at the door. You don’t necessarily have to buy a ticket prior to the event to participate.”

The cost to attend the walk is $10 and all proceeds go to the library’s capital campaign. All proceeds will be matched by Dekko. Refreshments will be available throughout the walk and Hargrove has acquired the use of three golf carts to assist individuals who may have limited mobility.

“This was a very successful event last year,” said Hargrove. “I was concerned it would be overshadowed by the wine walk. Fortunately, we’ve moved beyond that and we’ve had a good couple of weeks selling tickets and it combines local history community theater, fellowship and gathering there at the cemetery on what we hope will be a pretty nice day.”

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