By Morgan Bryce
Relive Auburn’s rich past during the Auburn Heritage Association’s “Pine Hill Cemetery Lantern Tour” on Oct. 17 and 18.
According to the association’s president Mary Norman, the event started in 1996 and has been held annually since 2004.
The tour serves as both a fundraiser and a way to raise awareness on the importance of historic preservation. Norman said the monies raised during the two days of the event are used for improvements and maintenance in both Pine Hill and Pinetucket cemeteries.
Norman explained that Pine Hill Cemetery specifically was founded in 1837 by Judge John Harper, widely known as the city of Auburn’s founder. After gifting the six acres to the city he helped create, his son was the first person to be buried there. It is the oldest cemetery in the city and is the burial place of several Auburn University presidents and well-known residents with historical significance.
Each tour is nearly 90 minutes in length. Norman said visitors will be led by their guides along a path illuminated by 1,500 luminaries and view the cemetery’s beauty as well as interact with actors in period costumes who portray various individuals who are buried at Pine Hill.
Lisa Ditchkoff, owner and operator of downtown Opelika’s Bottling Plant Event Center, said she has participated for the last eight years portraying different characters and enjoys bringing history to life.
“It’s a little creepy being in a dark cemetery at the graveside of the (deceased) person … but it’s a fun event that supports a great cause,” Ditchkoff said.
Norman added that the event has become an established tradition and something people look forward to throughout the year.
“We have a lot of people on our Facebook page that want to know when it is. After people go through it for the first time, I hear a lot of them (say) I didn’t know this or I didn’t know that about that,” Norman said. “We have a very loyal following and a lot of repeats.”
Parking is available at East Samford School, and there are trolleys available for those with accessibility issues.
Tickets are $10 at the gate and $5 for high school or Auburn University students.
For more information, like and follow the group’s Facebook page or visit www.auburnheritageassoc.org. The cemetery is located at 111 Armstrong St. in Auburn.