Tales of local legends and spirits will return with a live performance when SUNY Oswego's storytelling class presents the 7th annual Oswego Town Rural Cemetery: Ghost and History Storytelling Tour at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29.

Under the direction of professor Jonel Langenfeld of Oswego's theatre faculty, costumed performers bring the tales of local historical figures to life in this admission-free family-friendly event. New arrangements for parking and transportation represent a notable change (see below).

For the event, student performers will recount the stories of college founder Edward Austin Sheldon; Dr. Mary Walker, the local women’s rights pioneer and only woman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor; Underground Railroad hero Harriet Tubman; Queen Lili’uokalni Kamaka'eha (and her Oswego connection to Walker); Saint Marianne Cope; Chief Pontiac; college library namesake Lida Penfield; Dr. Richard Shineman; Audrey Munson (considered to be the “first supermodel”) and many more.

“I am very proud of the students in the storytelling class and their passion for sharing the stories of famous and not-so-famous historical figures residing in this and other cemeteries,” said Langenfeld, who teaches the interdisciplinary course. “The students have had a great time researching this area where they are going to school. They have learned a great deal about Oswego, the college, the people, the area and its history. Students also learn the importance of understanding everyone’s story." 

The event will once again feature a collaboration with Candis Haak of the SUNY Oswego history faculty and her "Death, Data and Local Cemeteries" course.

Admission is free and sponsored by the Oswego Town Historical Society and the SUNY Oswego Theatre and History Departments. Langenfeld offered a special thanks to Oswego Town Historian George DeMass, who is a 1966 SUNY Oswego alumnus. 

New arrangements, transportation

Due to overwhelming popularity and attendance, adjustments have been made to the production and attendance process in order to provide the best possible guest experience while protecting the integrity of the cemetery grounds, Langenfeld said.  

The performance is now on a Saturday instead of a Friday. It has an earlier start time and will run a bit longer, to allow for a new two-part structure: storytelling under a tent from 4 to 5 p.m., then a walking tour from 5:15 to 7:30 p.m. (in two groups; the group not on tour will be able to play local historical trivia for prizes).

To help protect the integrity of the cemetery grounds and provide a better guest experience, no general parking will be allowed for the cemetery show except for those with accessibility needs. Parking instead will take place at SUNY Oswego Commuter Lot 32 (the first right after coming in the main entrance from Route 104) with free Centro bus transportation connecting the lot and the cemetery. 

Buses will shuttle from the commuter lot to the cemetery starting at 2:40 p.m. every 20 minutes until 3:40 p.m. Return buses from the cemetery will run from approximately 6:45 to 7:45 p.m. 

Those with accessibility needs requiring parking at the cemetery should email jonel.langeneldrial@oswego.edu to reserve a parking spot. On-site parking is limited.

Tickets are free, with advance reservations required via tickets.oswego.edu due to high demand. Only 200 tickets will be available, with walking tours capped at 100 each. The purchased ticket will contain important information on which tour attendees will take, and tickets must be presented while checking in at the event.