The 25th Annual Oakwood Cemetery Walk is Saturday, September 14, 2019 from 12:00-5:00 pm. The Cemetery Walk is sponsored by the Waukegan Park District, Waukegan Historical Society and the City of Waukegan. The Oakwood Cemetery Walk is an annual “living history” event that showcases the rich history of Waukegan through costumed actors portraying local historical figures with connections to the cemetery and Waukegan, Illinois.
The theme of this year’s Oakwood Cemetery Walk is “Greatest Hits of the Past 25 Years.” Some of the favorite people and stories that have been presented in the past 25 years have been selected to showcase again this year and they include:
George W. Bell (portrayed by Joe Russell III) , born into slavery in Tennessee, captured by the Union Army, served in the Civil War, and moved to Waukegan in the 1880s, being among the first permanent African American families;
Marie Wurster (portrayed by Diane Veratti), born in Germany, and became a prolific actress and singer in German theater productions. Married to Alexander Wurster, also an actor who later became the director/manager of German theaters in Chicago, Philadelphia, and St. Louis;
James W. Woodman (portrayed by Rich Ribando), was a newspaper owner, publisher, and author. He purchased the Libertyville Independent and later the Waukegan Gazette which became the Waukegan Daily Sun until 1919. Upon his retirement he joined the News-Sun as a columnist and wrote three popular articles, “Little Bit O’Verse”, “Historical Sketches”, and “Folks I Have Known”, working until his death;
Henry C. Hutchinson (portrayed by Josh Bill) refused to run for Mayor of Waukegan, however, while out of town, he was elected without his consent. Upon his return he was persuaded to serve. He served as Mayor for three one-year terms. During his term he attracted many companies to come to Waukegan including the US Sugar Refinery, Washburn Moen and others;
Hobart Yard (portrayed by Michael May) and his two wives, Lucy Norton Yard (portrayed by Caroline Beadle) and Bessie Bublitz Yard (portrayed by Jenny Fugelseth). Hobart Yard was born in Waukegan and educated in its schools. He was interested in newspapers at a young age and became a general correspondent for many newspapers, both local and regional. He kept a journal/diary for almost 70 years, which are now located at the Waukegan Historical Society Research Library.
Participants will also hear other unique “Greatest Hits of the Past 25 Years” stories from storyteller Dan Drury, as well as the history of the City of Waukegan’s Oakwood Cemetery from docents leading the walk through the cemetery.
The Cemetery Walk starts at Lilac Cottage in Bowen Park-1911 N. Sheridan Road, Waukegan, IL, 60087. Buses will depart from Lilac Cottage to Oakwood Cemetery at 12:00pm, 12:30pm, 1:00pm. 1:30pm, 2:00pm, 2:30pm, 3:00pm, and 3:30pm. Ticket prices are $5 in advance and $10 the day of the event. Advance tickets can be purchased in person at the Jack Benny Center for the Arts-39 Jack Benny Drive in Bowen Park and at the Field House Sports, Fitness and Aquatics Center at Hinkston Park-800 Baldwin Avenue. Tickets can be purchased online at www.waukeganparks.org. When registering online, go to “Program Registration” and search for “Tickets.” Day of tickets can be purchase by cash or check at Lilac Cottage starting at 11:00am. Limited tickets are available.
There is no public parking at Oakwood Cemetery. Each tour is expected to run approximately 1.5 hours and will include walking on uneven ground. The last tour will start at 4:00pm. The Cemetery Walk will proceed during inclement weather. The Waukegan History Museum will be open from 11:00am-4:00pm during the event.
For more information please contact Ty Rohrer-Manager of Cultural Arts at 847-360-4744 or the Jack Benny Center for the Arts at 847-360-4740 or visit www.waukeganparks.org.