The Living History Tour is one of the most popular ways to get people out to visit your cemetery. They are especially popular during the fall, in the spooky weeks before Halloween, but can certainly be a draw any time of the year.
Lone Fir Cemetery, in Portland, Oregon, holds regular tours and a special, “Tour of
Untimely Departures” every year in the days before Halloween. Their Facebook page is a great place to find out more about these events. The Halloween tour had almost 3,000 people interested in attending and the event sold out. They charged $15 per adult ($5 for seniors and children) for the tour, specifically stating that the money would be going to the monument repair of two specific cemetery residents. This is a very successful event for the cemetery has been a good fundraiser, as well as gets many people to the cemetery to learn more about it.
Want an example of what a living history tour might looks like? The Nashville City Cemetery in Tennessee made a video about their 2017 tour. Here you might find costume ideas and some ideas for the stories you should tell. Partner with a local theater company, they will likely be able to help with costumes and actors.
Not interested in doing a “spooky” tour? No problem! There are lots of other ways to do living history tours. The Tacoma Historical Society in Washington has been doing a living history tour at the Tacoma Cemetery in July for the last 10 years.
This tour is a great and potentially lucrative way to get people interested in visiting your cemetery! Be creative, and if you want to do this event, really commit to it. Find good actors (provide a small stipend, if you can), and get good, historically accurate (as much as possible) costumes. The investment of time, effort, and money will likely pay back well in both money and community interest.