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Lantern walk at historic South Hadley cemetery planned Saturday

SOUTH HADLEY — Just in time for Halloween, the South Hadley Historical Society is holding a lantern walk, a nighttime guided tour of the historic cemetery in South Hadley Falls, Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m.

Village Cemetery is the final resting place of several prominent people from South Hadley’s past, and visitors will get a chance to learn about them.

Students from the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School, dressed in period costumes, will portray Josiah Bardwell, born in 1778, whose land in South Hadley Falls later became the site of the first paper mill in Hampshire County; Mary Lyon, born in 1837, founder of Mount Holyoke and Wheaton colleges; Ariel Cooley, born in 1758, who fought in the Revolutionary War and owned the Taylor Mansion on North Main Street; Daniel Lamb, born in 1735, who fought in the Revolutionary War and Shays’ Rebellion; Josiah Carew, born in 1807, who built the First Congregational Church on North Main Street; and Bessie Skinner, born in 1872, the daughter of Thomas Skinner, who taught in South Hadley schools until 1941.

Desiree Smelcer, historical society member and adult services librarian at South Hadley Public Library, said there is no need to worry that the event will be too scary for youngsters.

“The program is for all ages,” she said. Participants should bring lanterns or flashlights, she said.

The Historical Society, assisted by local Girl Scouts, will sell baked goods and hot cider with proceeds to benefit the historical group.

Smelcer said the historical society has permission from Police Chief David LaBrie to conduct the tours. Under state law, Massachusetts cemeteries are usually closed to the public after dark, she said.

Participants are asked to park at the Beachgrounds area on Main Street and walk to the cemetery, Smelcer said.

The event costs $5 for adults. Those under age 18, and first responders, can attend free of charge, she said. The rain date is Nov. 3.

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