Ghosts and Legends cast and crew members David and Terry Coffey pause Tuesday in front of the Teasdale "weeping angel" at Friendship Cemetery in Columbus. The marker signifies one stop along the annual Ghosts and Legends Tour Nov. 10 and 11. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
November 4, 2017 11:40:33 PM
However long one may have lived in a single place, there is still something to learn about it, some history or mystery that adds depth and texture. That's what Terry and David Coffey discover every time they take part in the annual Ghosts and Legends Tour in Columbus.
"I've lived here over 35 years, and I'm still learning a lot about the community through it, and it's so much fun," said Terry Coffey.
The Coffeys are among the cast and crew of this year's tours set for Friday and Saturday, Nov. 10 and 11, but anyone can board the buses for an excursion into the past. Tour-goers will make four stops in Columbus' Southside. At Friendship Cemetery, they will encounter the Teasdales at their oft-photographed family marker known widely as the "weeping angel."
Columbus schools' drama instructor Chelsea Petty will portray Teasdale's daughter.
"I always encourage my students to go because a lot of people think history is boring, but this brings history to life," she said. "You start to see history as a collection of stories about people whose lives were just as interesting, and sometimes more interesting, than some today."
Tour-goers will meet other spirits along the route. Some worked or lived on Catfish Alley, the lively street "up the hill" from the river. Columbus Police Department Assistant Chief Fred Shelton returns to Ghosts and Legends to portray Dr. Isaac Brown who treated patients there.
"Columbus is rich in history, and as I study parts of these characters, it helps me realize how fortunate we are that these people were in our community and that I can portray their story so others can hear it. ... If we can remember where we came from, it helps us with where we're going."
Tour stops also include one of the city's storied antebellum homes, and a native Chickasaw will share a tale from the settlement's earliest days.
"I think the tours can really put history in perspective and inspire people to learn more," said Petty.
Ghosts and Legends is an extension of a project originally begun by the Columbus Cultural Heritage Foundation. It is presented by the Columbus Arts Council, Cultural Heritage Foundation, Mississippi University for Women Center for Women's Research and Public Policy and Columbus Community Theatre.
"Get involved," said David Coffey. "It's enjoyable, and you get to meet such wonderful people."
How to go
Bus tours will depart the Tennessee Williams Home and Welcome Center at 300 Main St. Friday at 6:30, 7, 8 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday tours are 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. If the past is an indicator, tours will fill quickly. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the site, if available. Advance tickets are recommended, especially for families or groups with larger numbers.
Reserve tickets for desired tour day and time at columbus-arts.org, or by contacting the Columbus Arts Council, 501 Main St., 662-328-2787 (closed Mondays).
"We will get off the bus four times," said CAC Program Manager Beverly Norris. "There is a bit of walking involved, so comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Dress for the weather, and feel free to bring along a personal flashlight, if you'd like."
Complimentary hot cider and cookies for early arrivals will be provided by Visit Columbus at the Tennessee Williams Home.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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