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/

First Ever Drive-Thru Dunmore Cemetery Tour

Participants in October’s annual Cemetery Tour sponsored by the Dearly Departed Players included, from row, from left: Laura Doyle and Julie Esty, tour director, with Maura Mark of United Neighborhood Centers of NEPA. Back row, same order: Jake Mozeleski, Crista Gaskill, Nelson Wood, Christine McGeachie, Roger Mattes, Amy Black, Leslie Kirchner and Wendy Belaski. Not pictured: S. Robert Powell and Kathy Sponenberg.

The Dearly Departed Players rolled through the cemetery with the first ever drive-thru edition of the Dunmore Cemetery Tour on Oct. 4.  With the tour beginning at 2 p.m., cars were lined up down Warren Street, past Dunmore  High School and out to Quincy Avenue. Vehicles  also lined Church Street.  

A total of 170 cars went through before The Players got a very slight lull, then the procession started up again in force and continued until 4 p.m.  At least 350 cars went through, each car averaging between two and four people in each.  The drive through tour took almost 25 minutes to complete.

Participants were given a copy of the guidebook, “Who’s Who in the Dunmore Cemetery.”  With this guide book, participants were able to drive through the cemetery and learn about 12 cemetery “residents” and their historical significance.  Following the tour, they could use the guidebook, compiled by tour director, Julie Esty, to take a walking or drive-through tour at their leisure.  

The cemetery was decorated with corn stalks, harvest wreaths and scarecrows. In addition, Space Time Mead and Cider Works, Jerry’s for all Seasons, Dunmore Federation of Teachers, Lackawanna Historical Society, Carlucci – Golden- DeSantis Funeral Home, Miller Bean Funeral Home and Steven’s Wreaths donated decorations or sponsored and decorated a mausoleum or gravesite with harvest decor.  

Due to a sizable donation of fall flowers by the Dollar Store, 30 bouquets of flowers were assembled and laid at the gravesites of 30 Civil War soldiers buried in the Civil War section of the cemetery.  

The Dearly Departed Players were also assisted by Dunmore Mayor Timothy Burke and the Dunmore Police Department.  Gertrude Hawk Chocolates and PS Advertising  also contributed to the tour.  As always, Sam Quinn and the employees of the Dunmore Cemetery did a top notch job with the maintenance of the cemetery grounds.

Spaced throughout the cemetery, the Dearly Departed Players assisted the procession  through the cemetery.  Each Player reported numerous positive comments and thank you’s from the public for continuing  the annual event. The Players also reported that some tour attendees got back in line immediately following their first trip through the cemetery to take the tour again.

Suggested tour admission was the donation of non-perishable food items for Feed-a-Friend.  At the end of the tour Players reported that almost every collection barrel was overflowing with donations.  

Tour director Julie Esty stated, “We adapted, the public adapted.  It worked well and it was a joy to see everyone.  Good things happen in the cemetery! We will see everyone again in 2021!”