A Cemetery Comes to Life with PCA’s Dining Among the Dead

Dining Among the Dead at the Pioneer & Military Memorial Park/Cemetery is an elegant affair.  Image: Debe Branning and the Pioneers' Cemetery Association, ©2012, All Rights Reserved, Not to be used without permission

Dining Among the Dead at the Pioneer & Military Memorial Park/Cemetery is an elegant affair. Image: Debe Branning and the Pioneers’ Cemetery Association, ©2012, All Rights Reserved, Not to be used without permission

NMD – Debe Branning’s been a paranormal investigator and travel writer for a long time.  In short, she knows her stuff and she isn’t afraid to use it.

Also on her resume is that she’s a member of the board of directors for the Pioneer & Military Memorial Park Cemetery in Phoenix, a cemetery that’s a veritable “Who’s who” of the founders of the city, interspersed among the “common folk” who also helped to create a city.

A couple of times a year, Ms. Branning, and her partner in crime Cindy, will bring together a group of local actors/volunteers who will play the roles of the deceased, usually dressed as they would have dressed when they passed from this plane and on to the next, and sometimes looking like what they might have looked like when they passed.  If they were electrocuted, their hair stands on end.  If they drowned, they’re soaking wet.  Added to this is a walking tour of the cemetery, with the group stopping at the gravesites where the dead appear, each one ready to share their tale of woe, how they lived and how they died.

On 12 Oct 2013, Dining Among the Dead is happening, with all proceeds benefiting the Pioneers’ Cemetery Association (PCA) and their Tombstone Preservation Project.  The PCA is a group dedicated to maintaining the beauty of the cemetery, caring for the gravesites, and helping visitors to know that there’s life in death, if you care to listen to the stories they share.

On the right is Debe Branning, who is one of the hostesses for the evening in her costume.  Image: Debe Branning and the Pioneers' Cemetery Association, ©2012, All Rights Reserved, Not to be used without permission

On the right is Debe Branning, who is one of the hostesses for the evening in her costume. Image: Debe Branning and the Pioneers’ Cemetery Association, ©2012, All Rights Reserved, Not to be used without permission

The headliner at the dinner this night will be actor Wyatt Earp–who is a descendant of the legendary Wyatt Earp.  He will be portraying the infamous lawman of Tombstone, the town too tough to die, and he will regale his guests with tales of the Old West and life as an Arizona lawman.  However, there’s a caveat – he’s not buried there.  Wyatt’s buried in Colma, CA, in San Mateo County, at the Hills of Eternity Memorial Park.   Some of the other characters portrayed on the cemetery tour will be Cowboy Frankie, who was a prostitute married to Coyote Bill, who did time in the Yuma Territorial Prison.  Joining them is Fred Anderson, Anna Perley, Mary Tovrea Clay, Frank Smith, Maria, Pierson and S O Payne who have their own tales of woe.  And if you’d like to know how they died, you’ll just have to go to the dinner and take the tour.

The cost of the dinner is $45, with no refunds being offered if you find you can’t make it, but the dinner will include: Salad, Entrée (Choice of meat or vegetarian), Dessert, Iced tea or Lemonade, a play by the legendary Wyatt Earp, one raffle ticket (You may buy more at the dinner), and a luminary-lit Historic Tour of the Cemetery featuring reenactment characters.  The cemetery is at 14Th Avenue & Jefferson Street in Phoenix and the suggested uniform, of sorts, is Victorian, Edwardian or Steampunk, though you can show up in your everyday clothes, if you wish.  No one’s turned away for being in their usual dress!  The hours of the event are 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM and reservations ARE required!

In addition to the dinner/tour, there will also be a raffle with tickets being $2, or 3 for $5.

If you’re interested in attending, please contact Debe Branning at nazanaza@aol.com.

About Nancy Marine

I've been a travel writer since 2006 and have pretty much loved every minute of it! If there's a location you'd like to know more about, send me an e-mail at editor@explorationtravelmagazine.com and I'll do everything I can to get it on the site for you!

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