Montgomery is gearing up for the fourth annual Cemetery Walk.
With cooperation from the weather, the Historical Preservation Commission will again play host to hundreds of guests.
A big white Harvest Moon will hover over the Riverside Cemetery in Montgomery showing Mother Nature’s approval of the goings-on below. A peek at the calendar confirms that someone up there has arranged the special effects lighting again this year and the shiny white globe will perform it’s magic.
At 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, the dead will walk and talk, but have no fear. Local actors, dressed in period costumes and standing by the headstones, will give voice to the person they portray (the occupant of the grave), and bring them to life for you.
The Riverside Cemetery is nearly as old as the village. After the death of his son Dewitt in 1844, Daniel Gray donated an acre of land to the village to be used for a cemetery. Over the years additional land was either donated or purchased until it has grown to 32 acres today. Today the Riverside Cemetery Association with offices in the Dieterle Memorial Homes beautifully maintains it.
Each year the Historical Preservation Commission chooses a few people who are buried at Riverside and allows us a glimpse into their lives. Whenever possible a current family member will do the portrayal.
The actors this year will be Chet Albright, back again this year after doing a fine portrayal of Xenophan Beher last year; and Jared Chipman is back again in a surprise roll. John Aman and Jeanie Lee will portray another pioneer couple. Their past performances have been superb. Gloria Smorada Brandl will make her first appearance when she joins this cast to portray an ancestor.
The cemetery walks begin as small groups form and are led through the cemetery, following paths lined with hanging torches. One group at a time, they surround the first grave to hear the actors. As each group proceeds to the next grave, another starts.
The flickering torches create floating shadows as the group moves along the paths, through the cemetery. The audience members carry small flashlights to light their way; and the small lights in the audience combine with the flickering torches to create an atmosphere of subdued reverence.
As each grave is visited, an expectant hush falls over the audience when the narrator begins to speak. Each person chosen has a compelling story to tell and the past comes alive in a very unique way. There is such mystery and magic in a nighttime cemetery.
The secret identity of The Fox will be revealed for those who are still wondering. Along with the pioneer couple, an early member of the Briggs family will be portrayed. The other mystery person chosen will tell the story of his involvement in two murder investigations.
Cecil Piggott of Montgomery tackled the enormous project of documenting each grave in the cemetery and created a searchable database. The Kane County Historical Society has this information for people who are interested in locating a grave.
So, if you are curious about who did the murder investigations; or which member of the Briggs family will be featured in this year’s program; or which prominent pioneer couple will be portrayed by our talented pair of actors; and finally, if you wonder who wrote these prophetic words on the last page of his book: “Keep listening. I will be in touch, one way or another. Adieu for now.”— be sure to attend this year’s Cemetery Walk.
Each year the audience has grown from around 100 the first year, to over 400 last year. Watch for a future press release giving directions to the cemetery and additional information about the event.