Drive-Through Dunmore Cemetery Tour Draws Huge Crowds

By Julie Etsy

The tour was an tremendous success.  At least 300 cars went through on Oct. 3 and significantly more went through on Oct. 11.  And – just like with the walking tours – they came from all over.  We could tell by the license plates, and we asked.  So, it’s significant tourism for Dunmore. 

The cemetery was decorated beautifully in a harvest theme.  The autumn adornment for the cemetery included pumpkins, gourds, cornstalks, banners, gold and silver pumpkin totems, wreaths, scarecrows. and ghosts.  

The Lackawanna Historical Society, Space Time, Scranton Films, CaPaa at the Ritz Theater, Dunmore High School Crimson Company, Carlucci-Golden-DeSantis, Miller Bean Funeral Home, Pour Boys Pub, and a number of private citizens sponsored graves and mausoleums and decorated them. Gertrude Hawk Chocolates contributed a coupon for a discount on a purchase.  

The Dearly Departed Players were stationed throughout the cemetery.  Everything moved along beautifully.  Cemetery tour and cemetery activity books were distributed to those in attendance. 

We even had a local nursing home bring a van filled with their residents who we were told enjoyed their trip through the cemetery.  We also had people let us know that they had to attend a funeral in the cemetery and the harvest decorations were a great comfort.  

Griffin Pond Animal Shelter was on hand collecting non-perishable items for the pet shelter and they did a terrific job.  They filled two vans — and those vans were really packed with pet supplies.

I was out in the cemetery days before the tour decorating the place on my own.  I got so much peace out of it, going from mausoleum to mausoleum, putting a wreath on every door.  The weather was beautiful, so it made for a nice day out.  It is rewarding  to hear how much the regular cemetery walkers and tour attendees enjoyed the decorations.

As you can see from our photographs, we really covered a lot of time periods this year! The whole atmosphere changes with the harvest decor.  We reached folks on so many different levels and really showcased the cemetery as an open air museum and community friendly space. 

Dunmore Cemetery Tour Returns Next Month

By Julie Esty
Tour Director

The annual Dunmore Cemetery tour will return to the first two Sundays of October, which fall this year on Oct. 3 and 10, beginning at 2 p.m.

Because of the uncertainty of Covid 19, we have decided to go with a drive-through format again. It was a very successful event in 2020, and we will give visitors a new tour book and expanded route through the cemetery. The tour book they receive can be used at any point following the tour, either for drive or walk through.

We will have a different line-up of people from the past featured this year, with a whole new route. As always, admission is free. Since we have learned that many people on a national level are returning pets adopted from shelters during the pandemic, we have decided to partner with Griffin Pond Animal Shelter this year and accept donations of pet items at the gate.

We have been the fortunate recipients of a sizable Lackawanna County Arts and Culture Covid grant for adapting our art form, and we have also received a Municipal Arts Grant from the Borough of Dunmore to aid in financing this free tour.

It is our plan to make the cemetery more of a harvest festival this year.  We did this to a degree last year, but our funds were limited.  We plan to do more this year.  The cemetery looked absolutely gorgeous with corn stalks and scarecrows – even ghosts — so we’re expanding on that.  

The final resting place of Dunmore music teacher and director of music Martha Matthews Owens was decorated by the Dunmore Federation of Teachers.

Right now we have close to 100 bouquets of flowers for the Home for the Friendless Section and about a dozen wreaths to adorn mausoleums. We’re just starting to get ready now — I’m sure there will be an explosion of autumn in the cemetery for folks to see.

Our dear friends at Gertrude Hawk Chocolates will be supplying a “goodie’ for tour visitors.  Some people/organizations are decorating mausoleums.  Our friends at the Lackawanna Historical Society are going to take care of George Catlin’s spot.

As always, our Dearly Departed Players will be in the cemetery to guide people along the tour route. Costume planning has begun, and the Players are looking forward to getting out in the cemetery and seeing everyone.

We look at back and remember the tour was so positive last year.  People were so happy, and even with our visitors  in vehicles, we got to interact with the public on a large scale and it was wonderful.  The drive through method is really cool, and it works like a charm.  Of course, we are looking forward to the time when we get back to our regular format,  but for now this is great.  

The tour took about a half hour last year, and this year we expect it should take a bit longer.  

Since I am up the front where the cars come in, I decided a hoop skirt or dress isn’t the safest thing, so I will be going out there again as a hippie. Last year, folks were flashing me peace signs — soI am hoping they will do it again this year!

On another note, local filmmaker Luz Cabrales from Scranton Films worked with the tour for two years and has made a one-hour documentary about our beginnings. Then Covid hit.  That took the documentary down an interesting avenue.  

Luz showed how bleak things looked and how we adapted and a community worked together to help others.  It’s a beautiful film – she did an amazing job. The aerial views of the cemetery/Dunmore/the huge crowd are amazing.  She started submitting the documentary to different film festivals internationally and it is being seen on an international level. 

New Documentary Focused on Dunmore Cemetery Tour

Luz Cabrales

Luz Cabrales is director of a documentary entitled “The Dunmore Cemetery Tour, with The Dearly Departed Players.”

Luz runs Scranton Films, a group of filmmakers in the area making films, TV shows and series, all featuring local resources and local talent. 

“We believe that this area is full of talented artists and beautiful landscapes that can be featured in many creative projects,” Luz explains. “Our goal is to bring film back to the area and to build a filmmaking community by fostering and highlighting the work of talented artists, local businesses and our beautiful community.”

The Dunmore Cemetery Tour Documentary takes a personal look into The Dearly Departed Players and tour director Julie Esty and follows their journey into making the tour a success every year. 

Due to the COVID-19 crisis,, a Virtual / Online premiere will be held on the group’s Facebook event page on Nov. 21, starting at 6 p.m. Go to facebook.com/scrantonfilms.

The direct link is: https://www.facebook.com/events/734810377132067/