There will be no historical cemetery presentations this year, no actors dressed in 20th-century garb to tell the stories of the people whose memorable actions have shaped local history, no tours or sidestepping gravesites, at least not in person. No, this year, the Historical Society of Long Beach will put on its 25th annual Historical Cemetery Tour virtually, with a video weaving together the tales told during the 24 tours of the past, the ones allowed to happen before the pandemic altered just about everyone’s grand plans for the spooky month of October.
It was in 1996 that the society’s first tour was held, started by then-HSLB president Barbara Barnes and retired librarian and author Claudine Burnett (watch below). Over the past 24 years, the tour has become HSLB’s most significant fundraising event, drawing more than 1,000 people to Long Beach Municipal Cemetery and Sunnyside Cemetery on the last Saturday of October to witness actors performing the stories of those long passed.
This year’s virtual tour takes 234 historical images, postcards, maps and documents provided by HSLB and stories from past cemetery tours to form a 90-minute piece on 20th century Long Beach, from local cemetery history and women’s suffrage to prohibition, the depression, World War II and more. The film, “From Seaside Resort to International City: The Story of Long Beach Lives in its Cemeteries” will be released Friday, Oct. 30 and can be watched, as many times as you’d like, through Friday, Nov. 13.
Proceeds will benefit the HSLB, which works to preserve local history—through collections, exhibitions and programming—in an effort to connect people to the past and express what makes Long Beach so uniquely Long Beach. For more information and to purchase a pass, visit hslb.org.