|Rocky Balboa at Laurel Hill Cemetery|
|Cemetery Superintendent Dill Doran addressing crowd|
“Not everyone is cut out for cemetery work... It can be a strange, emotional and unnerving venture. But, it also has its bizarre and often comical surprises. At a cemetery like Laurel Hill – a provocative historic site that works daily to put the rave back into graveyard – those surprises become ever more frequent. Encounters with the living – human and animal – are often as memorable as encounters with the dying and the dead."
|McDowell monument, 1891|
|Headstone in tree!|
|Vacant mausoleum at right|
There is a vacant mausoleum here, by the way, which is for sale. Odd. I suppose that if you can’t afford to buy, maybe you can get it on a thirty-year lease …? Picture a “VACANCY” sign on the door...!
|Tour of portion of Laurel Hill Cemetery overlooking Schuylkill River|
Cemeteries will do just about anything these days to generate income. This is especially true at Laurel Hill, which has a very minimal amount of space left in its 78 acres for new burials. You have to give the management credit for being so creative as to negotiate with film companies to use the cemetery as a destination location for making motion pictures. Laurel Hill has been host to a variety of big-budget Hollywood films over the last six years, including Rocky Balboa (2006) and Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) (and yes, cemetery personnel do get to meet the stars!).
|Transformer at Laurel Hill Cemetery (ref.)|
|Rocky's chair at Adrian's grave|
If you have the opportunity to attend any of the Laurel Hill tours, they are fascinating, The cemetery people are great hosts. As is their usual practice after an event such as this, we were presented with an area in which to relax and socialize, completing the tour with complementary wine, beer, and crudités. Thankfully, this relaxing wind-down at the conclusion of Bill’s “Strange Adventures of a Cemetery Superintendent” tour was not held in a 300-degree mausoleum – it was held in the air-conditioned gatehouse.
References and Further Reading:
See Laurel Hill scenes in the trailer for Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen
Thanks to Bob Reinhardt, member of the Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery, for inviting me along as his guest.