I spent another fun Saturday night at one of my new favorite places, the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia. This time we took the two hour evening flashlight tour. This wasn’t a haunted attraction, the emphasis was on history and architecture. It was something different from the usual fall menu of haunted houses and hayrides.
Nothing Cowardly About This Lion
Our guide was dressed as a friar, and we had no trouble hearing him with his headset amplifying his explanations at each tour stop. We walked among monuments large and small, the flashlights enabling us to negotiate the sometimes tricky terrain.
Former Corpse Storage
At the conclusion of our walk, we were treated to cookies, bowlfuls of candy, and potentially hard apple cider, if you chose the optional splashes of whisky. There was even a merch table containing a diverse assortment of cemetery swag. There were serious items such as books and shirts, and fun trinkets such as grim reaper cookie cutters and shovel-shaped pencils. For a place who makes a business caring for the dead, they know how to show the living a good time.
New Cookie Cutters to Go With My Hatchet from the Lizzie Borden B&B
New Writing Implements
Some people prefer a night at the opera, while others enjoy a night at the ballpark. Not me, my inner Goth girl prefers an October night at the cemetery. I enjoyed the funerary concert so much that I attended Laurel Hill Cemetery’s Cinema in the Cemetery event.
The evening was crisp, chilled hands were thrust into the pockets of our hoodies as we wound our way to the temporary cemetery theater. We passed two fire pits along the way, in close proximity to the ice cream cart. Frozen treats were a nice addition in theory, but as we left later in the evening with hoods pulled tight over our heads, hot chocolate or cider would have been a preferable concession.
We found the perfect plot (pun intended) to set up our camping chairs. We enjoyed our provisions of pumpkin ale, candy corn, and assortment of other snacks and beverages as we sat among the tombstones. While I would have preferred something scarier, we were treated to 1960’s Little Shop of Horrors shown in black and white on a giant inflatable screen. The movie was paused a few times because wind gusts threatened to carry the screen away on more than one occasion. Was it wind or were the deceased not fans of Seymour and his plant?
Cinema in the Cemetery
Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
I am looking forward to next year’s Cinema in the Cemetery. Not since seeing Jaws on the beach has there been a more perfect atmosphere for movie viewing. Happy Halloween!
Two weekends ago I visited the Laurel Hill Cemetery located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the first time to see The Divine Hand Ensemble perform funerary music. Billed as Music for the Hearing Eye: Concert Atop the Crypts, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it sounded creepy and fun. There is no better place to hear funerary music than in an old cemetery that is not only the final resting place of Civil War generals, but also of six Titanic passengers.
Laurel Hill Cemetery
Fronted by theraminist Mano Divina, the string ensemble performed two sets. The first half was a mix of opera, movie tunes such as Edward Scissorhands, and other recognizable songs such as Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” and Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever.” There was even a harp duet. The audience were also treated to dancing and readings of Edgar Allan Poe poetry courtesy of Dr. Sketchy’s Lovely Lolitas, who were dressed in Day of the Dead finery.
After a 15-minute intermission, the group continued with all funerary music, timed to sundown. For the final song, the violinist and vocalists climbed to the top of the crypt to perform “I’ll Fly Away” next to the angel statue.
The program was a wonderful, moving experience. The last song finished at sundown, the bats in the trees taking flight at its conclusion. If we felt otherworldly leaving the concert, we were quickly reminded we were in Philadelphia as we passed the “grave” of Adrian Balboa. I hope to see this group again at the cemetery next year, it’s not to be missed, especially if you enjoy all things dark and spooky. However, if you have a chance to see them in another venue, be sure to check them out.
Adrian Balboa’s “Grave”