Historic Graveyard Tour returns at St. James’ Episcopal Church

It is 8 p.m. on a Friday evening and the weather is chilly at 40 degrees. The 200-year old graveyard at St. James’ fills up with an eager crowd holding lanterns. People of all ages attend, dressed in their winter gear. The tour is about to begin.

St. James’ Church in Hyde Park kicks off their 9th season with their annual Historic Graveyard Tour. Originally a run up for the bi-centennial church celebration in 2011, the tour has remained a popular event for many years. In fact, 200 people turned out for the first tour that the crowd had to be split into 3 groups.

The tour consists of approximately 8 actors stationed in different parts of the cemetery. Each of the actors plays characters who were buried at St. James’. Around half of the actors are parishioners, and half are not. Each year has non-coincidentally turned into a different theme for the tour. One year the theme was slavery, while another year the tour concentrated on disabilities.

The crowd follows the dark path of the graveyard, led by a host for the hour. Each actor tells their character’s background and major role in life. Some of the characters ranged from Red Cross personnel, soldiers, lieutenants and chefs to President Roosevelt.

The host for the evening, Russell Urban-Mead leads the crowd in an animated voice and takes the crowd to each stationed actor. Urban-Mead’s wife is the director of the tour this year. He sits in a church pew, before the start of the 8:00 tour and is enthusiastic for the evening. “It’s an exciting time for our parish where everyone comes together to work on the tour. There is a lot of history many do not even know about, just in front of our eyes in the 200-year old cemetery,” admits Urban-Mead.

This year, the focus was on those who were connected to the First World War. Chuck Kramer, The Revered, of 21 years at St. James’ made his debut appearance as an actor in this year’s tour. He played Ogden Livingston Mills, U.S Secretary of the Treasury during Herbert Hoover’s presidency.

Recounting the intention of the tour, the Reverend sits in his office, filled with books, sacred embellishments, and bright colors. “There are three goals of the tour. One is to entertain. One is to inform and one is to inspire,” said the Reverend.

Partakers of the St. James’ Historic Graveyard Tour can expect to be educated on major roles individuals played during World War I. It is a night to learn about the lives of the souls who rest in the church’s cemetery.

The Revered is proud of the impact the tour has left on people for the past 8 years as well as the light it sheds on history. “The tour makes people come alive in a way that tugs at the heart and has people thinking ‘wow.’ It engages both the funny bone and the heart,” said the Reverend.

The tour runs for 3 weeks in October on Friday and Saturday night’s starting at 7:00, 7:30 and 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 and proceeds go to the on-going ministry and outreach of the church.

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Historic Walkway Undergoes Renovations

The Walkway Over the Hudson has served as a popular attraction for both tourists and locals since its opening in 2009 as a State Historic Park. Today, the site is undergoing changes to ensure parkgoers have an even more positive experience.

The walkway’s nearly 600,000 visitors have been asked to pardon its appearance as construction on a Dutchess Welcome Center and a new elevator has begun.

Located near the parking lot, the 1,800-square-foot Dutchess Welcome Center is set to include amenities such as an outdoor patio, a dog-friendly water fountain, bike racks, and bathrooms, according to an article from The Poughkeepsie Journal. A new staircase will also be added to give visitors access to the walkway from Orchard Place.

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Images with the design of the new welcome center is posted on the fence outside of the construction site

The addition of a welcome center on the Dutchess side follows the unveiling of a similar center in Ulster County in June.

 

Many individuals, especially older visitors, have expressed a great deal of excitement towards the new bathrooms. Prior to construction, people could only utilize portable toilets set up near the parking lot.

Aside from bathrooms, visitors also expressed that they would like to see an additional concession stand providing snacks, light fare, and water incorporated into the welcome center.

“I just think overall it’s a good concept that they’re trying to provide better facilities for people because this is an attraction,” stated Matt Kravits, a Somers, NY resident.

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The new Dutchess Welcome Center is currently under construction and is set to open in the spring of 2019

Construction on the welcome center began in April, as stated by one of the walkway’s ambassadors, and is set to be completed by spring 2019 prior to the park’s 10th anniversary.

 

Currently, the welcome center appears to be in its initial phases of construction. Cinder block walls have been resurrected, and the structure is encased along with construction equipment by a chain-link fence. A sign posted on the fence provides visitors with images of the future site in addition to information on what to expect.

The materials and equipment being used for the construction site itself are being stored in areas that serve as parking spaces. Approximately 36 parking spaces, included those designated for handicapped individuals, seem to be taken up by the activity.

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Construction materials can be seen taking up several parking spaces

According to the walkway’s ambassadors, however, there have been no complaints concerning less parking spaces available. Additionally, the Walkway Over the Hudson is offering free parking in the lots due to the ongoing project.

 

In addition to the welcome center, the Walkway Over the Hudson will also debut an improved elevator system by the spring.

The new elevator will rely on an “encased energy chain upgrade,” which will replace the wireless-based communication system. The wireless-based system was discovered to be sensitive to the changing weather conditions of the region, as reported by the Mid Hudson Valley Patch. This energy chain system is anticipated to extend seasonal usage and improve reliability.

While construction on this project has not begun yet, the elevator remains closed to visitors until the construction is completed. Signs explaining the closure are posted at both the Dutchess and Ulster sides of the walkway along with a phone number to inquire about the elevator’s status.

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Signs warning of the elevator’s closure are located at both ends of the walkway

 

“I think they should definitely prioritize having the elevator accessible sooner than later,” shared Sue Kravits, a New York resident visiting with her husband, Matt. “I believe that it just opens it up to people that have disabilities and can’t access it another way, and that just would be a really goodwill sort of thing to do for the community and for those that want to use it.”

In regards to both the elevator and the welcome center, John Fila, another visitor from Greenwood Lake, NY, said, “I think anything they could do to make more parks and stuff more friendly for more people to enjoy, the better off [it] is.”

Free College Paving New Path For Collegiate New Yorkers

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POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — The 36th president of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, was quoted in a 1963 speech at the University of Michigan as saying, “Poverty must not be a bar to learning, and learning should offer an escape from poverty.” Those words certainly held true for Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY). Cuomo has now put into place a play to make Johnson’s quote a reality in the State and City University of New York systems. Continue reading

Quiet Cove Closed For Construction

Poughkeepsie, NY — Quiet Cove Riverfront Park is located on the west side of Route 9 in the Town of Poughkeepsie, just past the north entrance of the Marist College campus. The park used to only be available to Hudson River psychiatric center residents, until Duchess County purchased it. Now open to the public, the park’s proximity to Marist College’s campus is what makes it a desired destination for Marist students. Students can go to the park to walk the trails, have lunch, fish, or just hang out by the water of the Hudson River. Continue reading

Vegas Strong

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y.— An unexpected casualty struck in Las Vegas, Nevada, on the night of Oct. 1, 2017.

Concertgoers were fearful of their lives that night as hundreds were left staggering about the venue trying to flee the scene as quickly as possible without getting shot. Individuals were being taken randomly in vehicles and many were separated from family and friends by the end of the night. The only sounds that were heard while this horrific tragedy ensued were the sounds of the individuals crying for desperate help.

Stephen Paddock, 64, maliciously fired hundreds of rifle shots from a hotel room in the Mandalay Bay Casino towards patrons at the Route 91 Harvest music festival, killing 58 people and leaving 546 injured. This unthinkable tragedy is the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the United States.

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Marist Healing, Questioning After Vegas Shooting

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y.—Marist College sits 2,549 miles away from Las Vegas, Nevada. That’s approximately a 38 hour ride drive. Yet, on the morning of October 2nd, the aftershocks from what had transpired the night before had rippled into the Marist community. The wounds caused by what can only be described as a senseless act of unprecedented violence were so fresh at Marist it felt as though it had happened in the area.

Stephen Paddock was responsible for the murder of 58 concert goers at a country music festival, with 546 additional injuries being reported. Like many Marist students, junior Dylan Reilly woke up to a mixture of shock and disbelief. “More than anything, I was just stunned,” said Reilly. “I sat on my bed for probably an hour just refreshing Twitter. I just couldn’t believe something like this happened.”

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Illnesses on College Campuses

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y — Syracuse University has an outbreak of mumps cases on campus, which started back in late September. In early October, a message was sent out to the campus saying that the number had risen from two to eight. However, by mid-October, the numbers had increased to 24 confirmed and 26 probable cases of mumps. (Update: as of Nov. 17, there were 42 confirmed and 79 probable cases.) Continue reading

The Ups and Downs of College Internships

POUGHKEEPSIE, N. Y. –“There is nothing in the world like being on the sideline of an NFL game or being able to casually ask any player what their favorite Netflix show is. Just the other day I got to meet “Taysteé” [Danielle Brooks] from “Orange is the New Black” and I got hit with a ball thrown by Tom Brady—and that’s just a normal game day” said Marist College junior Michaela Landry. Continue reading

Did the polls and data journalists get it wrong?

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On Wednesday, November 2nd, the Chicago Cubs proved that anyone can come back and win on the world’s biggest stage. That following Tuesday, November 8th, Donald Trump did what was also thought to be impossible, by becoming the 45th president of the United States.

As election day got closer and closer, the media, and therefore the public, depended more and more on polling predictions and data visualization, often using digital savvy maps and charts to illustrate the many winning paths Hillary Clinton had, and the many obstacles Trump would have to face. It was safe to say that there was an overwhelming consensus amongst pollsters and data journalists that Hillary Clinton would emerge victorious Tuesday night.However, what was supposed to be a relatively early election night, ended up being a late night apocalypse, leaving people across the country wondering, how the hell did this happen? Continue reading