Stories at the Cemetery Returns

Stories at the Cemetery, hosted by Bruce Kelly, Audrey Kelly and Linda Benson, is back by popular demand. This year the stories will be told at Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery on Sunday, July 22 beginning at 6PM.

Ten new gravesites will be featured with presentations by the Cemetery Players, most of whom appeared in last year’s presentation. Be prepared to be surprised by tidbits of Alaskan history, charmed by heartwarming stories of the Alaskans who helped develop our state and shocked by tales of notorious characters from Alaska’s past. This is a self paced, self guided tour with adult content. The stories will be told starting at 6PM ; all stories end at 8PM. Come early so you can be sure to hear every one. ┬áThe program is free and open to the public.

A video example of a story from last year:

Stories at the Cemetery is an outgrowth of the John Bagoy Solstice Tour which Bruce Kelly and I have led since Bagoy’s death in 2005. Because of the popularity of the John Bagoy Solstice Tour we were asked if we would add more tours every summer. Hoping to introduce a younger audience to the history found at Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery we joined forces with Anchorage actor, director and storyteller Linda Benson. Bruce and I have many years worth of lecture notes. Linda Benson is a renowned storyteller. We made a great team. Linda edited pre-selected lecture notes from past solstice tours showing us how to focus on the most interesting part of the story. Ten local actors agreed to act out the characters we’d selected and Stories at the Cemetery began. This event is now an annual collaberation between Bruce and Audrey Kelly, Linda Benson and Rob Jones, the director of Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery.

Our goal is to continue sharing the history that Bagoy found at Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery. It was John Bagoy who worked to identify the numerous unmarked graves and to revitalize the grounds after the cemetery fell into disrepair during the 60’s and 70’s. His diligent research revealed gravesites of Klondike gold miners, pioneer businessmen, territorial politicians, homesteaders, upstanding citizens and notorious ones. In 1995 he started leading an annual solstice tour which Bruce and I continue to this day under the sponsership of Cook Inlet Historical Society. ┬áStories at the Cemetery features characters from past solstice tours with graveside presentations by actors who portray the story. We invite people to attend both.

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Audrey Weltman Kelly has lived in Alaska since 1967. Already fascinated with Alaska state history, she became interested in the history of Anchorage when she moved there in 1997. After retiring from a career in Travel and Tourism, Audrey became a Downtown Walking Tour volunteer with Anchorage Historic Properties. In 2003 John Bagoy requested help presenting the Annual Summer Solstice Tour that he gave every June 21 at Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery. Audrey started presenting with John that year. Her husband Bruce joined them the following year. Audrey and Bruce have continued leading the John Bagoy Solstice Tour every year since.