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  • Writer's pictureCheré Dastugue Coen

Skip Back in Time at South Louisiana Cemeteries

Updated: Jan 12, 2022

Every year a select few residents of Opelousas, Louisiana, clock back time to perform in the St. Landry Catholic Church Cemetery Tours & Historical Reenactments. This weekend is the last chance to have them guide you through the cemetery where Napoleonic General Garrigues de Flaugeac and Louisiana Governor Jacques Dupré are interred.

The Spirits joining the 2021 Cemetery Tours will be Evangeline; Sophie “Fie" Racheal Gradnigo, a woman of color businesswoman; Reverend Raymond, influencing Catholic education; Mr & Mrs. Kellams; Santa & Mrs. Claus; and more.

All proceeds from the cemetery tour Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 16 and 17, 2021, fund the Cemetery Historical Restoration Project. The tours began in 2003 and, to date, 30-plus gravesites have been restored.

Tours are available at 6 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m., and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday. Handicapped accessible tours will be available at 3 p.m. Sunday; call the organizer for more details. Bus groups are welcome. Tickets are $10 per person. Call (337) 942-6552 or (337) 308-3474 for more information.

Over in Lake Charles, Louisiana, the Living History Cemetery Tour takes participants to several cemeteries in the city from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5. The guided walking tours by actors in period dress will visit Bilbo Cemetery, Sallier Cemetery, Combre Memorial Park, and Corporation Cemetery and embody the lives of deceased historic figures. These include trailblazer Judge Norma Holloway Johnson, Lake Charles Little Theatre founder Rosa Hart, murderess Toni Jo Henry, and French aristocrat Michel Pithon, among others. “Wandering Spirits” will visit each cemetery, as well.

Participants will have the freedom to drive from cemetery to cemetery at their own pace. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors, and free for children 12 and under (must be accompanied by a ticket-holding adult), and can be purchased at

The event is sponsored by the Calcasieu Historic Preservation Society, Thrive Magazine, and supported by a SWLA Convention & Visitors Bureau Tourism Marketing Grant from the Lake Charles/SWLA Convention & Visitors Bureau. Proceeds benefit the Arts Council of SWLA, which provides needed programs and events to support the arts in the region. For more information, email or call the Arts Council of SWLA at (337) 439-2787.

Heading into November, residents will recount stories of 1800s life in Abbeville, Louisiana, with the "If Headstones Could Talk..." tour. The guided, living history event features St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Cemetery, behind the historic St. Mary Magdalen Church, in the heart of this Cajun town south of Lafayette.

Tours depart every 30 minutes starting at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, from The Depot at Magdalen Place. Tickets are available at The Depot or Abbeville City Hall.

For more information on the Abbeville cemetery tour, call (337) 740-2112.

Ever wonder why Louisiana has so many tombs above ground? New Orleans Catholic Cemeteries has a great explanation here. You'll be surprised at the answer.

Weird, Wacky & Wild South is written by Cheré Dastugue Coen, author of "Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana" and the Viola Valentine paranormal mystery series under the pen name of Cherie Claire.

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