Dead men, and women, do tell tales during Cheshire’s annual “Spirits Alive” Hillside Cemetery tour. The tour, which is now in its sixth year of operation, shows no signs of slowing down, with it vastly increasing in popularity since its inception in 2014.
Hosted by the Cheshire Historical Society in partnership with the Mulholland family, tickets to the “Spirits Alive” tour have quickly become some of the most sought after in Cheshire. On Oct. 11 and 12, those attending the tours will be transported 200-plus years into the past to meet some of Cheshire’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 onsale 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 in order to help with parking and logistics.
The Grange will also be hosting a bake sale during the two tour nights alongside the Historical Society, who will be selling books on Cheshire history and have a sign up list for those interested in becoming a member of the Society who, along with all other members of the Historical Society, will get access to the two week presale of next year’s “Spirits Alive” tickets.
Thomas Mulholland, one of the tours chief researchers and avid member of the Cheshire Historical Society, was excited to mention that they will be bringing back a crowd favorite in order to “go more indepth with his particular story.” While Mulholland didn’t want to give too much away, he guaranteed that there is something for everyone during the tour.
“We have stories ranging from social justice warriors, industry pranksters, and disease,” said Mulholland. “We also always try to throw in at least one murder for the Halloween season.”
Each “spirit” represented in the tour gets its own historical skit, which teaches the audience about the life and eventual death of the individual, and sometimes there are even “guest spirit” cameos who help tell a more accurate story.
From the over 600 candles that illuminate the pathways, to the intricate and period specific 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 table cloths. The donations we get from everyone in town are crucial to the tour’s charm”
There is also a companion event on Oct 21, a week after Spirits Alive!, that is called “Conversations from the Grave.” It’s involves an hour-long discussion panel that goes into a deep dive of each spirit visited at Spirits Alive! and is designed specifically for those who were unable to grab a coveted ticket to this years tour, or want to know more about the spirits featured.
This event is held at the Hitchcock-Phillips house, 43 Church Dr., with the actors and members of the Cheshire Historical Society, many of whom are willing to answer any questions people may have about various figures from the tour, as well as give more information that may have been left out of the tour.
Attendees will also learn about the behind-the-scenes magic that goes into creating such an iconic event. “Conversations from the Grave” will run from 7 to 8 p.m. and is free to attend.