Santa Monica’s Woodlawn Cemetery is home to a variety of interesting historic characters and this Saturday, visitors will have a rare opportunity to experience the living history contained within the gates.

Woodlawn will host its fourth annual Living History tour on Saturday, March 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Actors will be on site portraying individuals such as astronaut Sally Ride, actor Doug McClure social / political activist Tom Hayden, community activist Thelma Terry, and the City’s first and longest-serving librarian, Elfie Mosse.

Officials said the event has grown out of a changing perception of cemeteries, particularly well-maintained ones. While they will always be places to rest and mourn, they are increasingly being seen as places where you can celebrate life. Woodlawn staff said people go to cemeteries to bird watch, paint, meditate, and even attend concerts and festivals. In a sense, cemeteries are being seen as parks.

The facility hosts several community events throughout the year including a Tree of Life/Holiday Open House in December, Dia de Los Muertos celebration and a patriotic event on Memorial Day.

The idea to expand with a Living History day came from the East Coast where the events have been successful and after two years of planning, the first local event was held in 2015.

“All the events held at the Cemetery, in one way or another, honor those from our community who have passed on,” said Patrick Hayden, a Staff Assistant at Woodlawn Cemetery, Mortuary & Mausoleum. “Woodlawn is one of the City’s landmark resources. Having been founded by Santa Monica’s original Spanish settlers in 1875 and deeded over to the City in 1907, Woodlawn is deeply woven into the fabric of the City’s history. The events provide opportunities to learn about the Cemetery, its past and present, and the important services it provides to the community as its uniquely positioned as the only City-owned and operated cemetery and mortuary combination in the United States.”

He said the cemetery has a stable of actors that have worked the event over the past few years and the information comes from a variety of sources, including biographies, Santa Monica Public Library archives, the Santa Monica History Museum, as well as from the families of notable persons.

“For example, not only did the family of Miss America 1945 – Bess Myerson – help create the script for the 2016 tours, but Myerson’s granddaughter also portrayed her during the tours,” he said.

The Living History Tours include informational presentation from the actors, a stroll through Woodlawn’s ornate Mausoleum and a stop at Eternal Meadow, Woodlawn’s new green burial section. Other activities will include “Movies in the Mausoleum” and a photography exhibit produced by students of the Santa Monica College Photography Department.

Attendance has grown steadily over the years and officials will offer two guided tours on Saturday, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to accommodate as many interested participants as possible.

“This year, we hope to host over 200 attendees, and we look forward to growing the event and continuing our collaborative efforts with the Santa Monica Public Library, the Santa Monica History Museum and other local organizations,” said Hayden.

Woodlawn is located at the intersection of Pico and 14th Street (1847 14th St). Limited free parking is available on site and some street parking is also available on 14th Street. The use of public transportation is encouraged with Big Blue Bus Lines 7, Rapid 7, and 41 serving the cemetery. The cemetery is wheelchair accessible. Guests are asked to RSVP through Woodlawn Cemetery’s Facebook page. For more information, visit woodlawnsm.com or call (310) 458-8717. Follow Woodlawn Cemetery on Facebook at @WoodlawnSM.

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