'Spirits in October' haunts historic Riverside Cemetery

'Spirits in October' haunts historic Riverside Cemetery

If you are looking to have an encounter with ghosts, ghouls and spirits during this Halloween season, then the Historic Riverside Cemetery Conservancy is providing a unique opportunity for audiences of all ages to meet some of the cemeteries most beloved residents at a series of events called Spirits in October.
“This year marks the sesquicentennial,” said Suzanne Doonan, Managing Director for Historic Riverside Cemetery Conservancy, meaning that it has been 150 years since the start of the Civil War.
“I find it impossible to understand that era and how the institution of slavery could be sustained and to think of our nation being fractured. I wanted to look at those events and understand how they affect us now and move past them. Just as a citizen of Macon I started asking questions about how to tell the stories,” explained Doonan.
The Civil War is a sore subject, so she asked many citizens on how to tell the story and received the response “just don’t leave us out, tell our stories. That’s what I am trying to do,” said Doonan.
One of the main events is the spirits walking tours that takes place at Riverside Cemetery, where actors help bring to life some of the stories of the past.
This is the fourth year that walking tours have been presented. “The first year that the walking tour was presented, Dr. Randy Harshbarger offered to have his honor class help,” said Doonan.  The students helped with research, making the map of the tour route and a few were actors and some students were tour guides.
Two Mercerians are involved in this year’s event: Ashley Gordon and Hannah Hyde.
Both play the role of Ellen Craft, a slave who was mixed and had very fair skin. She escaped with her husband by posing as a white man and her husband posing as her servant to board the train in Macon and escape to Philadelphia.
Ashley Gordon became involved through Facebook. “We have a group on Facebook for the Mercer Players and one of the girls wrote on the wall that they needed a few girls.  I called Suzanne Doonan, and she had a part for me,” said Gordon, a freshman double majoring in Biology and Christianity.
“The cemetery is really not that scary. It’s a really fun event. I feel like it’s a great opportunity to learn a little bit about history and some of the people in Macon’s history. It gives you a good look at the spirits perspective at how things were,” said Gordon.
The tours will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on October 20-22, and 27-29. Tickets are $10 for students, $20 for adults, and $15 for seniors and those with a military license.
Tickets are available online and must be purchased beforehand.
Spirits in October will host a book signing on Saturday, October 29th   from 6-9 p.m. featuring author Jackie White for her new book The Greatest Champion that Never Was the Life of W.L. “Young” Stribling.
The Historic Riverside Cemetery Conservancy in conjunction with the Macon Film Festival will also be having Big Screen Movie Night featuring the movie Waking Ned Devine, on Wednesday October 19th at 7 p.m as another event for Spirits in October. To find out more information about tickets and the events students can attend, visit www.riversidecemeteryconservancy.com.