Annual Angels on the Bluff attracts crowd
Published 12:04 am Friday, November 6, 2015
NATCHEZ — A candle-lit tour through a cemetery led by a long-dead Confederate soldier may seem like a spooky prospect to most, but attendees of the 15th annual Angels on the Bluff know better.
In fact, those who walked through the Natchez City Cemetery Thursday evening were treated to an educational evening of family friendly entertainment.
Annette Holder, co-chair of Angels on the Bluff, said the event isn’t meant to be scary.
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“It’s totally educational, and we try to be historically accurate,” Holder said.
The 100-acre cemetery is candle lit for the event, and dozens of volunteers guide tours through the site to meet the “angels” who have come to life just for the evening.
Seven actors portrayed the stories of historical figures that are buried at the cemetery and entertained guests at their plots for an informational evening. One such actor, Richard Ellis Connor IV, is playing a role near to his heart.
“I’m portraying Richard Ellis Connor I, who was a Confederate soldier,” Connor said of his relative and namesake.
Later in his performance, Connor tells guests at his plot about his father, Richard Ellis Connor III, a World War II fighter pilot, who is buried nearby. The pilot was downed in Germany behind enemy lines and had to find his way back to safety.
For Connor, the event is a family affair. His older sister, Ruthie Coy, has also played their ancestors in the past.
“We have a lot of family buried out here in the cemetery,” Coy said. “It’s kind of become a family thing. Now it’s (Richard’s) turn.”
For Coy and Connor, the event is about history and family.
“It’s a way to give back to the community and to the cemetery,” Coy said.
Holder said the popularity of the fundraiser has led to its growth in recent years. The annual event has gone from a single night at its inception to three nights this year, but Thursday will be the only night held at the cemetery.
“This is the first time in nine years we’ll be rained out,” Holder said.
Friday and Saturday performances will be at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.
Event co-chair Cyndy Stevens said that the event is possible because of the amount of community support it receives.
“I think people love to come to Natchez,” she said. “They really enjoy hearing the history of it. She said that many locals miss out on the event because they don’t buy tickets quickly enough.
Stevens said the event is the largest fundraiser for the cemetery, and that guests keep the preservation effort going.
Stevens said she hopes guests will learn the history of Natchez through the event and appreciate the beauty of the cemetery.
“It’s one of the prettiest cemeteries in the South, and that’s a fact,” she said.
Holder said it is amazing how the event sells out.
“Our tickets go on sale Aug. 1, and we are usually sold out by the end of September.”