Living History Cemetery Tour: Long-gone area citizens return to share their stories on Nov. 4

“Restless spirits will remain in the Lake Area after Halloween treats have been consumed and decorations stored until next year. See for yourself. Listen as they tell their life (and death sentence) stories and detail famed feats from their own perspectives.

Saturday, Nov. 4, 4 – 7 p.m., the Arts & Humanities Council of SWLA revives the Living History Cemetery Tour.

Actors dress in period attire and embody the lives of deceased historic figures at four cemeteries, Bilbo on N. Lakeshore Drive, Sallier, 598 Dr. Michael DeBakey Dr. #528, Combre Memorial Park, 2701 Opelousas St. and Orange Grove, 2023 Broad St.

“Wandering Spirits” will visit each cemetery and are figures whose gravesites are unknown or spirits visiting other cemeteries.

New this year, is a chance to “meet” a local historical figure who defied the odds. Doretha Combre, a widowed mother of six small children. With no income she managed to educate her children and lead the integration of McNeese State University. Combre will be portrayed by Leslie Montgomery, who portrayed a Hurricane Audrey victim in 2019. Montgomery has been digging in, finding out about Combre and for her, the Living History Tour gives her the opportunity to pay “homage to greatness, to give voice to unspoken voices.”

Mitchell Woods will bring James Hodges, one of the Lake Area’s founding fathers back to life. Like Montgomery, he enjoys digging into the history of locals and this community.

“So much is missing, so much has been lost to time,” Woods said. “Being a part of the tour helps me keep the legacy alive.”

Jennifer Spees will once again play Toni Jo Henry. Before her first performance, she studied everything she could – including unconfirmed rumors –  to learn more about the only woman to get the electric chair in Louisiana when she was put to death in November 1942.

“Everybody is fascinated by Toni Jo,” Spees said, “and they want to see her grave.”

Spees said the year she was a “Wandering Spirit” embodying Henry at a cemetery other than the one where she is buried, she caught a lot of flack. This year Orange Cemetery is on the schedule and she’ll be standing by the grave to perform.

Tickets

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors, and free for children 12 and under (must be accompanied by a ticket holding adult), and can be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/living-history-cemetery-tour-2023-tickets-741066619207?aff=ebdshpsearchautocomplete or at Bilbo on the evening of the event. Bring the correct change. Or use Venmo. For more information, please email cameronf@artscouncilswla.org or call the Arts & Humanities Council of SWLA at (337) 439-2787.

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