Re-enactors from the Pioneers’ Cemetery Association (photo courtesy Susie Dwyer)

As the sun sets over the tombstones of the Pioneer & Military Memorial Park at 14th Avenue and Jefferson on October 12, the early founders of Phoenix will be roused by more lively visitors at the second annual Dining Among the Dead fundraising event.

Luminaria light the cemetery tour (photo courtesy Debe Branning)

Organized by ghostchaser Debe Branning and the non-profit Pioneers’ Cemetery Association (PCA), Dining Among the Dead offers guests the opportunity to dress in Victorian, Edwardian, or steampunk costumes if they wish (with comfortable walking shoes) for a candlelit catered dinner of salad, entrée, and dessert near the historic Smurthwaite House. The ticket price includes a raffle ticket, and supports tombstone restoration.

Actor Wyatt Earp (photo courtesy W. Earp)

Live music accompanies dinner, along with a one-man play performed by local actor Wyatt Earp. Later, attendees meet historical characters during a luminaria-lit tour of the old cemetery, with vignettes presented by re-enactors in period dress.

The PCA’s twice-yearly cemetery walks offer similar opportunities in a daytime setting, staffed by enthusiastic volunteer participants using historical material, roles, and costumes gleaned from old obituary and newspaper research. All events benefit the organization’s efforts to maintain and restore the seven cemeteries of the 11-acre Memorial Park, including the graves of significant figures from Arizona’s history like Phillip Darrell Duppa, King Woolsey, and Jacob Waltz, the “Lost Dutchman.”



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