CHESHIRE — Dead men, and women, do tell tales during the annual “Spirits Alive!” Hillside Cemetery tour. The tour has vastly increased in popularity since its inception in 2014.
The tour, held on Oct. 11 and 12, is hosted by the Cheshire Historical Society in partnership with the Mulholland family. It transports participants back more than two centuries to meet some of the town’s most notable residents.
“The tour gets more professional and polished with each year that passes,” said Stephen Mulholland, one of the tour actors and script writers, as well as a Historical Society member. “We are proud of every tour we’ve done and we just keep getting better.”
Tickets went on sale to the general public at midnight on Aug. 31 and, by Sept. 2, “Spirits Alive!” had completely sold out for both days. Besides ticket sales, the event has almost quadrupled in volunteers since its beginning. This year, they’ve even partnered with the Cheshire Grange to help with parking and logistics.
The Grange will also be hosting a bake sale during the two tour nights. The Historical Society will be selling books on town history and will have a sign-up list for those interested in becoming a society member. Members get access to the two-week presale of “Spirits Alive!” tickets.
Thomas Mulholland, one of the tour’s chief researchers and an avid member of the Historical Society, said the tour of the Wallingford Road cemetery has something for everyone.
“We have stories ranging from social justice warriors, industry pranksters, and disease,” he said. “We also always try to throw in at least one murder for the Halloween season.”
Each “spirit” represented in the tour gets their own historical skit, which teaches the audience about the life and death of the individual. Sometimes there are “guest spirit” cameos to help tell a more accurate story.
From the over 600 candles that illuminate the pathways, to the intricate period costumes, no detail is too small for the “Spirits Alive!” team as they prepare for October.
“It takes hours upon hours to complete one full costume for each spirit.” said Angela Jannetty, the tour’s costume designer. “We use everything from donated fabric scraps to tablecloths. The donations we get from everyone in town are crucial to the tour’s charm”