Brad Thomas of Clinton Township has always been interested in events and people of the past.
He is also the current Chairman of the Clinton Grove Cemetery Board of Trustees and, as such, considered it an honor to play the role of its first chairman for the Crocker House Museum Cemetery Walk on October 3 .
It’s my first time taking the walk, said Thomas, whose presidential tone and mannerism was further accentuated by the top hat and tails he wore for Tuesday’s dress rehearsal.
Other members of the cast, who gathered at the cemetery to review their scripts, included Dan Hogan, Lynn Anderson, Rick Katon, Elizabeth and Charlie McQuillen and Dan Woitulewicz.
The Cemetery Walk serves as a fundraiser for the Crocker House Museum and several of its special projects and is part of the local events that usher in the fall season. This year, with so many events canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, it will also be a great opportunity for families to have a unique outdoor experience.
Telling stories in a cemetery can seem strange.
But as Thomas learned at a young age, this is actually the place to be, especially when it comes to history.
I grew up in Mount Clemens and have been coming here for a long time, said Thomas. I lost my brother in 1976. He was killed by a drunk driver after returning from service in the US Navy. He was 25 years old. I was 21.
I came here to mourn him and that’s when I saw the connection the tombstones had with history, Thomas added, as he walked through the cemetery basking in the shade of oak trees along the ‘avenue Cass, where many of the city’s founding families, historic business owners and heroes of all kinds were buried.
Each year Kim Parr, director of the Crocker House Museum and inventor of fundraising, chooses a theme for the walk, and then begins researching the names of people who may have played a role in that theme. With this year’s theme being the 150th anniversary of the era of Mount Clemens Mineral Baths and Clinton Grove Cemetery, its first President Edward Clark Gallup and his life will be among the stories told.
He also married the daughter of the city’s founder, Christian Clemens, Thomas said.
My character died in 1926, said Lynn Anderson, owner of Fashion and the Automobile, a traveling museum exhibit of vintage fashion shows and among those who took part in previous walks in the cemetery. I love that she was a businesswoman in her twenties. Her husband died and she took it all back.
Like many reenactors, she is also a history buff and a person who believes the cemetery should not be a place to be avoided, but a place to be embraced.
Death is part of life, she said, looking at the tombstone of the woman she will be. The walk through the cemetery humanizes the tombstones and is a wonderful way to reflect on our local history.
Dan Hogan agreed.
This is my second year. I also do a recreation of the Titanic, said Hogan, who has been acting for over 30 years and, as Parr said, a hoot from a character in himself!
Some reenactors will stick to the script written by Parr. However, he is one of those who will beautify him with his own take on his character who happens to be one of the first owners of baths and hotels.
I don’t have a gravestone and have been married three times. What does this tell you? Hogan said, with a smile as he hinted at who his character might be during Tuesday’s rehearsal.
Sharing interesting stories and interacting with the public is what I enjoy about the cemetery walk, ”Hogan said.
The cemetery walk is an appointment. While many events inside museums have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, this one is outdoors and offers families a unique opportunity to participate in a fun and educational activity.
WHEN: Saturday October 3, starting at noon.
O: Clinton Grove Cemetery at 21189 Cass Avenue, Clinton Township
Tickets are limited, non-refundable, and cost $ 15 for Macomb County Historical Society members and $ 20 for non-members.
Due to pandemic restrictions, the event has been modified slightly to ensure the safety of guests. This includes purchasing tickets in advance by September 23. When you purchase tickets you will be posted a specified ticket time with instructions on parking and where to meet your guide. Upon arrival, groups with specific schedules will meet their guide and follow a tour featuring the troupe of reenactors telling their stories. This is the best way to discover our local history! Parr said.
ADMISSION: Tickets for the cemetery walk are available online at crockerhousemuseum.org
The Crocker House will require everyone to wear a mask and maintain social distancing while visiting.
For more information call 586-465-2488 or email [email protected]