In 1976, after decades of deterioration, vandalism, and general neglect, Oakland Cemetery found a rebirth of sorts when a small group of concerned and committed Atlantans rallied to restore the cemetery to its former glory. In 1977 the organization became a federally-recognized nonprofit organization, and this October Historic Oakland Foundation celebrates that 40th anniversary with a month full of activities perfect for fall.
On Sunday, Oct. 1 Oakland Cemetery hosts the 39th annual Sunday in the Park fall festival. This year’s Sunday in the Park will be free and open to the public, as HOF’s way of saying thanks to the thousands who have supported Oakland Cemetery over the last four decades.
“The past 40 years have been phenomenal for Oakland Cemetery. This is a crucial time in our organization’s growth, and we’re just as excited for what the future holds for HOF,” said David Moore, executive director of HOF. “We invite everyone to come out to Sunday in the Park, celebrate with us, learn something new, and spend a beautiful fall day in an unforgettable setting.”
During Sunday in the Park the cemetery will feature exhibits chronicling Oakland Cemetery and HOF’s evolution, as well as historical highlights for the city. The festival also includes a Victorian costume contest, living history demonstrations, live performances, kid’s crafts, an artist market, and much more. Sunday in the Park opens at noon and continues through 6 p.m.
Sunday in the Park caps off HOF’s 40 in 40 campaign, which began Aug. 23 and seeks to raise $40,000 in 40 days in celebration of the organization’s milestone anniversary. Though free to attend Sunday in the Park, donations are welcomed and also count toward the 40 in 40 fundraising goal, which supports a range of preservation, education, and public interest projects at Oakland Cemetery.
Following Sunday in the Park, Oakland is off to the races with the 10th annual Run Like Hell 5K on Oct. 14. This year’s race features a new, faster route spanning the cemetery, Memorial Drive Greenway Project, and Georgia State Capitol. Run Like Hell is a family-friendly race and an AJC Peachtree Road Race qualifier. Run Like Hell includes a Halloween costume contest, post-race activities, and the opportunity for participants to fundraise in support of HOF’s African American Grounds restoration project. Early race registration ends on Sept. 15, and registration closes on Oct. 11. Race details and registration available at www.itsyourrace.com.
The acclaimed Capturing the Spirit of Oakland Halloween Tours rounds out the month, with tours held over two weekends on Oct. 20-22 and Oct. 26-29. As one of the only opportunities to visit Oakland Cemetery after dark, Capturing the Spirit resurrects the stories of Oakland residents through vivid historic reenactments. Ticket sales for Capturing the Spirit broke records this year, with all tours selling out within a week of going on sale to the general public in July.
“Everything we do at HOF drives home our mission to uphold this unique historic landmark,” said Moore. “Through educational programming, special events, public outreach, and more, we showcase Oakland Cemetery as a one-stop repository of architecture, botanical gardens, modernity, and history.”
All proceeds from Oakland Cemetery’s special events and tours benefit HOF’s mission is to preserve, restore, enhance, and share Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta’s oldest public burial ground and treasured historic landmark. Event and ticketing details available by clicking here.