The distant, dusty fragments of the past and the spirits of the permanent residents of Sunnyside Cemetery may be long gone but for one bright and beautiful Autumn day those celebrated souls returned to their earthly state once again as the 27th Annual Historical Cemetery Tour took place at the green pastures on Willow Street in Long Beach.
The Long Beach Historical Society has presented this marvelous event in association with the Long Beach Playhouse to allow history to live again for all to learn and love those who have gone before.
In the cemetery setting, there were authors of local lore and history along with booths that celebrate the cultural heritage in all of its different forms and vibrancy. Families come together with friends new and old to discover people from the past, their loves and sometimes the darker moments in time.
The true draw for visitors is the talented cast of actors and actresses who bring our history to life with their tales of triumph and lives well lived. Some were happy while some were cut short by circumstance. All of the tales were beautifully related to applause, laughter and even a tear or two.
In “The Missing Mausoleum”, Dr. Horace and William Austin were brought to life by John Sturgeon and Alex Shewchuk, discussing the architecture and the ultimate mystery of whatever became of the family mausoleum, which remains unsolved to this day. A joy to watch!
“Strange Sea Tales” featured Bob Fetes and Sean Wellengard as Captain Billy Graves and Edmund Griffin chatting amiably about embalming a whale! Very entertaining!
“The Psychic Temple” had Mitchell and Jane Nunn bickering entertainingly as Dr. and Mrs. Price and the occult career that they shared. The psychic temple still stands, cementing their colorful legacy in Long Beach. Very comedic!
The tale of Charles Bozeman was recounted with the talents of Rick Reischman, Terra Taylor Knudsen, Gregory and Kyra Cohen in “Lost at Sea”, another tale of Long Beach’s unsavory past. Wonderful!
“Side Hustles” featured Zadie Cannon and Tara Brown as Dora Nunley and Effie Sanders relating their drive in business and social standing with expert timing. Kudos!
In the “Pacific Squab and Poultry Farm”, the Harnett family was portrayed by Noah Wagner, Madison Mooney and Jill Prout talking about the early days of Long Beach’s history along with their own colorful families contributions. Always a pleasure to see these magnificent performers at work!
“A Hopeless Romantic” had Lisa J Salas, Roxanne Martinez and Dennis Kortheuer relating the story of Sadie and Nora Linares’ life and loves. Lots of fun to see!
“Meanwhile, Back at the Rancho” saw Lydia Shinkle and Indiana Jones DeLaO as Jesus Vasquez and Harriet Whitmeyer recounting the early years at the Rancho Los Alamitos in style. Great work!
Many of the performers returned from previous years and many made their debut at this years’ celebrations. The Long Beach Playhouse (under the excellent leadership of Madison Mooney) came through with talent, costumes and a solid presence to bring the past alive.
Here’s to many more amazing years for this remarkable festival!