Out & About

Byas: Take a stroll through history

You know about the Spirits tour of the “Notables and Notorious” held every October at the historic Riverside Cemetery, right? You may even know about “North Gate Notables,” a guided tour of the cemetery’s North Gate section that took place a few weeks ago. In case you missed either of these events, you’ll have an opportunity this weekend to take a guided walking tour through history during the Spring Spirit Stroll at Riverside Cemetery.

One of the most impressionable events in Macon during the Cherry Blossom Festival, the hour-long Spring Spirit Stroll is a fun, informative and educational experience.

“Our Spring Spirit Stroll has been held every year since 2012. It’s a beautiful and leisurely walk through the cemetery during daylight, which features actors in costume who portray historic figures and reveal to visitors their stories, said Suzanne Doonan, the cemetery’s conservancy director.

Yet another highlight of Macon, a city with a rich history, Riverside Cemetery was mostly designed by renowned American landscape architects Calvert Vaux, known for his work in New York’s Central Park and Museum of Natural History, and Ray Wyrick, designer of many projects throughout the United States. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places for more than 30 years.

Riverside Cemetery stands as evidence -- a historical calendar of sorts -- that residents of Macon have contributed much more than a standout musical heritage to the greater narrative. During its 126-year history, the 125-acre property has become the place of perpetual rest for more than 18,000 individuals, many being legends of note in the city, as well as of state and national historical records.

These notable locals include industrialist John Fletcher Hanson, the father of Georgia Tech; civic leader William Fickling Sr., who inspired the founding of the city’s Cherry Blossom Festival; aviator Hazel Jane Raines, the first woman in Georgia to earn a commercial pilot’s license; World War I veteran William Leo Robinson, first African American lot owner; and band leader Lowry Eugene “Uncle Ned” Stripling, a radio personality and television pioneer.

Hear some of their own stories and those of other notable and notorious figures from the city’s historic past during the Spring Spirit Stroll, being held at 6 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Reservations are not required and tickets can be purchased at the cemetery’s gate house.

Contact Melanie Byas at melanie@retrowarehouse.com.