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‘Historical Ghost Tour’ brings the to life at Brackenridge cemetery

October 3, 2018

Prospect Cemetery board President Cindy Homburg at the grave of Tarentum founder Henry Marie Brackenridge on Tuesday, May 1, 2018.

It could be called The Talking Dead.

But there’s really nothing to be afraid of, and a lot of local history to learn, at the annual “Historical Ghost Tour” of Prospect Cemetery. It’s being held this year on Thursday, Oct. 11.

A dozen actors will be portraying notable figures from Tarentum and Brackenridge’s past. They include Henry Marie Brackenridge, founder of Tarentum and for whom Brackenridge is named; Noah Henry, founder of Summit Hose; George Nease, a football coach at Tarentum High School; James Hudepohl, who founded the Boy Scouts in Tarentum; and Martin Walker, a justice of the peace in Natrona.

Cemetery President Cindy Homburg promises there won’t be anything frightening. While the actors will be speaking at their characters’ graves, it’s not a haunted tour.

“It’s historical,” she said. “It’s bringing Tarentum -- old Tarentum -- to life.”

The tour started in 2009, but not at the cemetery until 2010. In the first year, Homburg said they walked around Tarentum and talked about the buildings and the people who owned them.

“We were just talking one day, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to let people know the history of the area?’” she said, recalling how what became the Historical Ghost Tour got started. “We wanted the people of Tarentum to learn the history of their area. We started doing this and it’s been a great success ever since.”

Taking part in the tour costs $10 per person. Proceeds help pay for the historic cemetery’s upkeep.

Tour groups of 10-to-15 people will leave every 10 minutes from the cemetery office starting at 6 p.m. A tour takes about an hour and 20 minutes and ends back at the office, Homburg said. Those who make a reservation will be told what time to arrive; the last tour usually goes out around 8 p.m., but it could run later.

There’s no deadline on reservations. Homburg said those who show up without one will get put in a tour group.

Those attending should wear good walking shoes and can bring a flashlight if they wish, she said. Paths will be lit with luminaries. Due to terrain, it’s not accessible for those in wheelchairs.

Attendees can park across Freeport Road at Trinity United Methodist Church, or at the former Chalkboard restaurant. Police will help people get across the road, Homburg said. Participants should go to the cemetery office upon arriving.

About 150 people came out for the tours last year, Homburg said.

Homburg said the ghost tour would be great for kids.

“It’s not scary. The kids will not get scared,” she said. “Hopefully some of this will sink into the kids and they’ll learn how Tarentum and Brackenridge got started.

“I love telling people what I know about the area so that they can capture this vision of how it was,” she said. “It’s so important to know the history of the town you live in.”

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