Live Oak receives guests

Published 11:21 pm Friday, March 20, 2009

Tour groups walked under a canopy of Spanish moss at the Old Live Oak Cemetery as the sun bled through live oak and magnolia branches.

Men and women dressed in antebellum attire wandered among moss-covered markers that leaned over the sunken ground. Ed Green stood next to a row of concrete slabs etched with names and dates. Green’s black robe swept over the dried leaves that lay on the ground.

“This pilgrimage and this weather in this cemetery, it’s just gorgeous,” Green said.

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Green, who played Judge Jonathan Haralson, was one of 13 actors who portrayed ghosts of people who are buried in the city of the dead on Dallas Avenue. About 60 people toured the cemetery Friday evening and listened to stories about some of Selma’s most famous residents. The event, which cost $5, was part of the 34th Annual Historic Selma Pilgrimage — a weekend-long celebration of the city’s antebellum past. A second tour will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Director Maggie Davies said the tour offered people a chance to experience living history in a setting that is second to none.

“They can experience history like it’s supposed to be,” Davies said. “You can’t beat that.”

Pilgrimage brings folks from across the state to the city along the Alabama River. Darice Lecroy and her 13-year-old daughter Claire drove up from Mobile. They wanted to visit a town packed with history, Darice said.

“We’ve been studying a lot about the Civil War,” Darice said. “We decided this would be a good time to come up and visit.”

Claire said she enjoyed visiting some museums around town, and she hopes to visit more Saturday.

“I like all the history,” she said. “History’s my favorite subject.”

The allure of elaborate antebellum homes brought four sisters together from across the state, too. Celeste Morgan of Sylacauga, Rhonda Geddie of Wetumpka, Renee Wall of Kellyton and Cheryl Sparks of Anniston met in Selma to take in the sights and sounds of Pilgrimage.

“We try to get together from time to time,” Wall said. “We all love antiques, and we all love antebellum homes.”

The four sisters stood on a small, marble wall with the sun at their backs. Geddie said she could tell the setting was just right.

“The grounds are beautiful,” she said. “The ladies in the long dresses are picturesque in this setting.”

Autumn Williams wore a sea foam green dress. Williams, a 14-year-old tour guide, said the cemetery was one of the most beautiful spots in Selma.

“Oh, I love the cemetery,” she said. “It’s so pretty.”

Ward 8 Councilman Corey Bowie said he was glad to see so many tourists in Selma. Bowie, who portrayed Dr. R.B. Hudson, said Pilgrimage portrays the first part of the city’s motto – From Civil War to Civil Rights.

“This is part of it, part of the heritage,” Bowie said.