Oakland Cemetery’s Sunday in the Park launches fall festival season at ATL’s oldest cemetery
By David Pendered
Historic Oakland Foundation is celebrating its 40th anniversary on Oct. 2 during Oakland Cemetery’s annual Victorian fall festival, Sunday in the Park, which benefits the foundation that preserves and maintains the burial ground.
For its part, Sunday in the Park is celebrating its 37th year. The festival has grown from an intimate gathering to a communitywide celebration of Atlanta’s oldest public burial ground.
“Sunday in the Park started as a small picnic, with Oakland descendants primarily attending, David Moore, executive director of Historic Oakland Foundation, said in a statement. “It’s since evolved into a favorite annual tradition for all Atlantans, and as we look back at HOF’s accomplishments, we also look forward to welcoming and engaging a new generation of visitors to historic Oakland.”
This year, the central feature of Sunday in the Park is a retrospective of the significant restoration projects that have been completed since HOF was established in 1976, which happened to be the bicentennial year of the United States.
One highlight will be visits to the mausoleums that have been refurbished. Oakland determined in 2011 that 37 of the cemetery’s 55 mausoleums are in need of repair. Oakland restored the structures with federal funding provided through the Save America’s Treasures program, which is affiliated with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The remaining 18 mausoleums were determined to be stable or were being maintained by families or groups, Moore said at the time.
This year has marked two major milestones in the cemetery’s restoration and long-term maintenance:
- In June, Oakland announced the discovery of some 872 probably remains in the cemetery’s African American section and honored the unmarked graves with a Juneteenth program. Restoration is to begin in 2017;
- In August, the Rich Foundation provided a grant of $300,000 to restore the cemetery’s Jewish section. HOF is to raise an additional $150,000 from public and private donors to cover the total projected cost of restoration, which is $450,000.
Sunday in the Park also offers a full array of events intended to entertain children and adults. Activities include Victorian costume contest; living history demonstrations; storytelling; guided walking tours; book signings; restoration presentations; carriage rides, and burial records research.
Scheduled live entertainment includes performances by Sweet Auburn String Band; The Ghosts Project; The Glory Hounds; Heidi Pollyea and Friends; Penny Serenade; The Amazing Spud Brothers; Caledonia; Matthias Young; Henry Frantz, and The Stately Vintage Dancers.
Sunday in the Park is a kick-off event for Oakland’s month-long string of activites that culminate with the Capturing the Spirit of Oakland Halloween Tours. Tours are scheduled Oct. 21 through Oct. 23, and Oct. 27 through Oct. 30.
Other events include the Run Like Hell 5K and the Run Like Heck 1K, both on Oct. 15.
Information: Sunday in the Park begins Oct. 2 at noon and continues to 6 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for each child aged 4 years to 12 years, and free for children aged 3 and under. All proceeds benefit HOF’s mission to preserve, restore, enhance and spread the word about Oakland Cemetery. www.oaklandcemetery.com/events.