Cemetery Walk offers entertaining education in Mt. Pleasant
Glenn Smeltzer slowed his stroll to a stop and propped a sun-reddened forearm atop a tall, wooden walking stick bearing the hand-hewn head of a capped, Civil War soldier.
He'd just reached the crest of one of the many rises deep within the winding, 50-acre expanse of Mt. Pleasant Cemetery along Braddock Road Avenue in the borough.
As Smeltzer surveyed the rolling, pastoral terrain speckled with more than 7,500 headstones marking the final resting places of those buried beneath, he weighed his decision to attend the fifth annual Historic Cemetery Walk presented there Saturday by the Mt. Pleasant Area Historical Society.
“I think this is really great what they're doing here,” said Smeltzer, 78, who previously led similar walks for those in search of the graves of Civil War veterans in Harrold's Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery and St. Clair Cemetery, both in Hempfield.
“I signed up to come to this two or three years ago, but it was raining, so I came back today,” he said.
He wasn't disappointed, as temperatures peaked in the low 80s, and billowy white clouds ornamented a crystalline blue sky over the grounds where history was brought to life before the eyes of Smeltzer and more than 85 other visitors from around the region.
“We had about 30 people here at 10 (minutes) after 12 (p.m.) (the event's official start time),” said Beverly LaGorga, the society's vice chairwoman and event coordinator, with a telling smile.
Since 2010, the society has presented the yearly event in which attendees have an opportunity to learn about some of Mt. Pleasant's most influential late citizens, according to Rick Meason, the society's president.
“We spend months getting ready for this,” he said.
Each year, the event is orchestrated to not only pay homage to local military veterans, but to spotlight several prominent, historical individuals buried at the cemetery.
The society provides information on each person to area thespians who voluntarily carry out the roles.
“We try to feature people who have a story to tell, and there are many that can,” Meason said.
In addition to Diana Lucia, who portrayed “The Victorian Lady,” this year's installment spotlighted Charles L. Kuhn, a local drug store proprietor, who was portrayed by Ed Kelemen of New Florence; Charles E. Mullin, a cashier for Farmers and Merchants National Bank and a prominent real estate and insurance salesman, portrayed by Kelemen's son, Erik Kelemen; Carrie E. Noss, a talented teacher and artist and the proprietor of the Noss Hotel on Main Street, portrayed by Delores Love.
The fourth person to be featured was late Mt. Pleasant Borough Police Chief Denver Braden Pore, the only Mt. Pleasant Borough officer ever to be killed in the line of duty.
He was portrayed by Ed's younger son, Brendan, 25, the same age as Pore when he was slain.
“Dad asked me if I wanted to play (Pore's) part, and I love doing this type of stuff, so he gave me the script,” said Brendan Kelemen while awaiting another group of event visitors in a police uniform near Pore's grave.
On the evening of April 5, 1906, just one month after he took the job as chief, Pore was shot in an altercation with Andrew Lindsay Jr. He died of his wounds on April 7, 1906.
“In my opinion, Chief Pore deserves an award for what he did that night,” Brendan Kelemen said.
Between the encounters with those enlivening these prominent, historical figures, attendees were regaled with a bounty of enlightening information by Cynthia Stevenson, the event's hostess, a society member and borough councilwoman.
“We are pleased to have this opportunity to showcase our town's largest cemetery,” she said.
Stevenson was joined by Meason and fellow society members Jaime Golobish, Jim Lozier, Richard Snyder and Aaron Wolk, who each took turns serving as volunteer guides.
As one of the last throngs of visitors made their way to the walk's conclusion, Meason had a message:
“I hope that you found this tour educational, informational and maybe even a little bit entertaining.”
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.