23rd annual Angels on the Bluff again a sell out for city cemetery

Published 3:45 pm Monday, October 9, 2023

NATCHEZ — The Natchez City Cemetery’s annual Angels on the Bluff event is Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 9 through 11.

Ticket sales kicked off on Aug. 1, and this year’s event is sold out, according to the city’s website.

The event typically sells out quickly each year. It is quite a draw for Natchez and benefits not only the cemetery, but also city businesses, said Annette Holder, who is on the cemetery board and works with the Angels on the Bluff project.

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Holder discussed the cemetery and Angels on the Bluff recently at the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce’s Friday Forum, held at Natchez Coffee Co.

The Natchez City Cemetery was created in 1821 and 1822 by moving graves from the old cemetery in downtown Natchez, which was in what is now Memorial Park, to its current location, which was then only 10 acres on Cemetery Road.

Today, the Natchez City Cemetery has grown to 100 acres and more than 50,000 people are buried there.

“The age of Natchez at more than 300 years old and its strategic location on the Mississippi River and the Natchez Trace and the Old Spanish El Camino Real Road have contributed to the unusual tapestry of the cemetery,” Holder said. “It’s the final resting place of individuals from all over the world whose life’s journey brought them to Natchez. Their stories are varied — some romantic, some mysterious, some humorous, and some very tragic.”

By learning the stories of Natchez’s past, we gain a better understand of Natchez today,” she said.

“Ben Franklin once said, ‘Show me your cemetery and I will tell you about your town.’ Our beautiful cemetery speaks volumes about Natchez,” Holder said.

Angels on the Bluffs has been not only an extremely successful fundraiser for the cemetery, it is also a boon to many Natchez businesses.

“Some business owners have told us Angels on the Bluff weekend is one of their busiest of the year,” she said.

Angels on the Bluff began as a walking tour in 2000. Now, the one weekend event is made up of at least 50 tours, beginning on Thursday and ending on Saturday night.

“At least 3,000 visit Natchez on this one weekend,” Holder said. “Our area is rich with talented actors who are generous with their time…At times, we have family members who portray their ancestors.”

Since the tours began in 2000, more than 160 stories of people buried in the Natchez City Cemetery have been told. “Only a handful of stories have been repeated,” she said.

“People of all ages, races, ethnic and religious backgrounds have been portrayed, and each story discussed the impact of these individuals on Natchez,” Holder said.

Funds from the tours have been used for a variety of necessary projects, such as repairs to the cistern houses and putting a new roof on the shelter house, installing security cameras and enhancing lighting at the cemetery.

“Our cemetery director has a list of items in need of repair, which would be great projects for civic organizations and individuals,” Holder said.