Bringing History Back to Life!
Pippa, a young school teacher from the First United Methodist School in Kissimmee, calls her mom to invite her to dinner with Pippa’s best friend. At first, the mother is delighted. It sounds like a really posh affair–a swank, $50 a head, fundraising event. She asks Pippa where the dinner is being held.
“At the Rose Hill Cemetery,” is the reply.
I don’t know if the mother suddenly flashes on scenes from Dawn of the Dead or if she worries that her daughter has seen too many episodes of Dexter, but she heads to the cemetery anyway to join Pippa and her best friend.
It turns out the young women are history buffs. Tonight they will “Dine with the Departed” at the third annual fundraiser executed by the Osceola County Historical Society at the Rose Hill Cemetery on the east side of Kissimmee.
The evening comes alive with a buffet steak dinner under a large white tent in the dead center of the Cemetery. There are approximately 20 large round tables that seat 10 souls apiece. Mrs. LanceAround and I join Pippa, her best friend and her mom at a table. There are two other couples from the town of Celebration. Pippa and her mother tell us that they both majored in psychology in college, but Pippa minored in history. She volunteers each summer at the Osecola Historical Society summer camp. She loves history and is thrilled to help raise funds for the historical society.
During the dinner, each table, in turn, exits the tent and embarks on a guided walking tour of the cemetery. Our daughter, NumberOneEmber, has volunteered to be a tour guide this evening. Donning small oil lanterns, the tour guides shepherd the small groups through a maze of luminaires lighting a path throughout the cemetery. Every now and again the tour group stops at a grave site where a local actor portrays the role of the departed dignitary therein interned. It’s a role they are dying to play.
The stories are deathly serious. They contain a good bit of history with some drama and an occasional comedic touch. All in all, it’s a fabulous evening that combines good food, social interaction, fundraising, a silent auction, live music, art and (most importantly) a deeper sense of understanding about the history of the local Osceola County community.
When the fundraising event was first proposed three years ago, it was not without controversy. One of the organizers confided that at the first Dine with the Departed, a small group of protestors arrived; accusing the society of desecrating hallowed ground for the purpose of raising money. But it seemed evident to me that the event was both conscientious and respectful. If anything, it honored those special leaders of Osceola County who contributed so much to their local community before passing on. The protests soon perished.
This is one of those seldom heard of events that are entertaining, fun and perfect for the well researched vacationer who is seeking “More Than a Mouse.”™ I highly recommend you add “Dine with the Departed” to your bucket list!