Gardening is a popular activity among the longest-living people on Earth, and it combines physical and social interaction with vitamin D from sunlight. It also builds strength and dexterity.
Yard work is a full-body workout that can burn as many calories as a trip to the gym. Digging, raking and mowing all engage major muscle groups.
- Friends of the Easton Cemetery and the West Ward Community Initiative are hosting Community Day at the Easton Cemetery on Sept. 16
- Visitors can enjoy yoga, cemetery tours, grave gardening tours and more
- Donations are requested in order to maintain community programming and to help alleviate costs for the cemetery
EASTON, Pa. — Seeking to cleanse your spirit through the art of yoga? Or perhaps you’re more incline toward the meditative practice of gardening.
Either way, you’ll find something to sate your appetite at Easton Cemetery this weekend.
Friends of the Easton Cemetery and the West Ward Community Initiative are inviting local residents to a day of connecting and reconnecting the community with the legendary resting place as a place for recreation, relaxation, history, nature and art.
This Saturday, Sept. 21, the two organizations are welcoming visitors to Community Day at the Easton Cemetery, with a variety of tours, activities, art and fundraising to e support for public programming and educational resources for the community.
The motivation behind the seemingly unusual event stems from a historical practice of treating cemeteries as public green spaces as well as final resting places, Friends of the Easton Cemetery President Amy Wolff said.
“Our cemetery is a garden cemetery, so it was actually created for the intention to bring people in and to spend the day,” Wolff said.
“In Victorian times, that’s what people were doing – they spent the day, even in our cemetery when it was the early 1900s. They were lined up at that North 7th Street gate and bought tickets. They would dress up, they would bring lunches, they would picnic on the graves of their loved ones. So we’re sort of starting to kind of bring back that original messaging that this is a park.
“This is Easton’s biggest public park, essentially.”
Amy Wolff, president of Friends of the Easton Cemetery
“This is Easton’s biggest public park, essentially.”
According to the groups, the day will feature cemetery tours in both English and Spanish, grave gardening tours, a creation station and a scavenger hunt for all ages.
Local organizations including the West Ward Community Initiative, Easton Garden Works, The Nature Nurture Center, the Lafayette and Easton Libraries, Family Connection and The Valley Om will offer a variety of additional activities. Visitors can also learn about pet adoption with the Center for Animal Health and Welfare.
Easton Garden Works will have their mobile Seed Library on scene, in addition to hosting games. The West Ward Community Initiative will run the scavenger hunt, and offer lessons on how to build a birdhouse.
Don’t worry about walking away all skin and bones, as snacks and goodies will be available from Big Papa’s Food Truck, The Nice Slice and Sunnie’s Bake Shoppe.
If you want to just sit back and enjoy the vibes, bring a picnic blanket or a lawn chair to enjoy some tunes from Fictional Name.
The day kicks off with outdoor yoga at the Half Moon with Brent Mackzo, followed by the “Best of Historic Cemetery Tour” at 11 a.m., the same tour en Espanol at 11:30 a.m., a horticultural tour with master gardeners at noon, and a final cemetery tour at 1 p.m. Official event hours will run concurrently with the listed activities from 11 a.m. through 3 p.m.
Friends of the Easton Cemetery and the West Ward Community Initiative are asking for suggested donations at the events to help cover costs, raise awareness about the cemetery and help offset operating costs.
The Easton Cemetery dates back to 1849, and also incorporates Easton Heights, established in 1891. The cemetery appears on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as the permanent residence of over 42,500 individuals across 86 acres.
Preserving and maintaining the location has become more difficult as time goes on, with the death care industry shifting away from higher burial revenues to cremations, which inevitably leads to historic cemeteries struggling financially.
Fundraisers like the Green Trail 5K, along with donations received at events like Community Day, help to continue programming and materials such as the self-guided tour booklets, educational programming like fourth grade field trips, and the grave gardener program.
Thanks to these unique events and the funds they raise, volunteers are able to maintain the cemetery as both a burial ground and a space for public gatherings.
Wolff admits some may find the event “kind of weird,” but said it has become decidedly less strange to her and her fellow Friends of the Easton Cemetery as other resting places host similar events.
Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, Laurel Hill Cemetery and The Woodlands in Philadelphia, and Oakland Cemetery in Mount Hope also hold community-oriented engagements to attract people to their locations, working to foster connection to the community and an interest in preserving history.
“Having bands play, hosting sort of wild type events, galas, dance parties, book readings, all kinds of things, just sort of help diversify the folks that come to the cemetery and the reasons that they’re coming,” Wolff said.