'Spirit Voices' to haunt Old Manatee Burial Grounds

October 10, 2013 

"Spirit Voices from Old Manatee" runs select days through Oct. 19 at Manatee Village Historical Park. Tanna C. Photography/publicity photo

An old graveyard filled with ghosts rising from their graves sounds scary, but mostly it's educational.

"Spirit Voices From Old Manatee," slated to begin its two-week run today, features actors in period clothing portraying actual 19th-century residents of this area.

Most residents are buried at the Old Manatee Burying Grounds, and the actors will relate stories of their lives and of life in the early days of Manatee County as they stand near their characters' headstones.

First there's a Victorian wake at the Manatee Village Historical Park. Then guides will lead audiences of up to 40 people through the torch-lit cemetery, and stop at several stations along the way during the 75-minute historical theater presentation where actors will deliver monologues.

This is the third year for "Spirit Voices From Old Manatee," and there are some changes. The biggest is the addition of two new characters, a freed slave named June Mason who became one of early Manatee's most important and revered citizens, and Polly Parker, a Seminole who was considered a traitor by her tribe. They're the first two "Spirit Voices" characters who aren't buried in the cemetery, but organizers say their stories help offer a more rounded view of early Manatee County.

There are seven performances, and Sunday's takes place in the church in Manatee Village instead of the cemetery across the street. It's designed for people who may not care to walk so far or who might get creeped out by being in a cemetery at night.

The event is not recommended for children under 10, because most of them get bored by a historical drama.

Details: Gates open 6:30 p.m., cemetery tours start at 7 p.m. Oct. 10-13 and 17-19, Manatee Village Historical Park, 1404 Manatee Ave. E., Bradenton. Tickets: $17. Information: 941-741-4076.

-- Marty Clear

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