Mesa cemetery offers walking tours

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by Javier Soto

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azfamily.com

Posted on April 25, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 25 at 4:00 PM

MESA, Ariz. -- It's not the kind of tourist attraction you're probably used to seeing. This weekend, Mesa will offer visitors a walking tour of the city's cemetery.

The graveside tour lets visitors take a stroll through the city's history as they walk among the gravestones.

The tour will offer more than 20 stops. Visitors will hear the stories of Mesa residents who gained fame in one way or another over the years.

"We say here at the cemetery that we have the famous, like Waylon Jennings," says Vic Linnof of the Mesa Historical Society. "And we have the infamous, like Ernesto Miranda."  Miranda's conviction led to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling and the creation of the Miranda Rights.

Linnof says country star Waylon Jennings is probably the most talked-about resident of the cemetery. "A lot of people are surprised that Waylon Jennings resides here at the Mesa Cemetery," says Lennof. "his wife lives in Chandler, and he spent a lot of time here in the Valley. And that's where his career really started, at a little club called JD's down in Tempe."

Stops will also include: Dr. Lucius Alston, Mesa’s first African-American doctor; John Rhodes, House Minority Leader and member of Congress for 30 years; and Martin Worthington, a Confederate Soldier who served in the Civil War.

It's a tour some may find morbid. But Linnof says it's rich in history and education. "You can find the story of a community here," he says. "There are some very touching tales and descriptions found on headstones. Cemeteries by their nature are very peaceful. This is a wonderful, tranquil park to be in. I don't find it morbid or eerie at all."

The inaugural Mesa Cemetery Tour takes place Saturday, April 27 at the cemetery, 1212 N. Center St. The first tour will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the last tour will start at 9:10 a.m.  Tickets will be sold beginning at 8:15 a.m. on the day of the event only.  Admission is $15 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 to 13 and free to children under the age of 6.  All proceeds benefit the Mesa Historical Museum.
 
If you're participating in the tour, please enter the cemetery from Country Club Drive north of Brown Road, proceed left on 12th Street and park along C Street.  For more information about the tour, visit www.mesamuseum.org.  For more information about the Mesa Cemetery, visit www.mesacemetery.com.

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