What is the Evergreen Cemetery Walk?
The Evergreen Cemetery Walk is a nationally recognized, award-winning annual event that brings the voices of McLean County's history to life. It is a collaboration between the McLean County Museum of History, Illinois Voices Theatre, and Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, and serves about 3,000 people annually, most of whom are students.
Each year, costumed actors portray people from McLean County's past on the grounds of Evergreen Memorial Cemetery. Their stories illustrate the impact the people of McLean County have had locally, nationally, and even internationally. Volunteer tour guides lead groups through the cemetery and share the history of the cemetery, funerary customs, and introduce the characters.
The Evergreen Cemetery Walk is about one mile in distance and lasts approximately two hours. Participants are standing and walking the entire time, and the Walk continues rain or shine, heat or cold. Keep this in mind when deciding whether to participate in our in-person or online event. So put on your walking shoes, or gather around the TV, and bring your family to participate in this fascinating, outdoor theatrical program!Buy Virtual Tickets School Tour Information School Tour Reservations
until the 2024 Cemetery Walk
The Museum is pleased to announce our sponsors for the 2023 Walk. Because of their support, the Museum can again ensure that over 2,000 students and chaperones, and additional older adults living in senior care facilities, are able to participate in this year’s Walk (whether in-person or online)!
Without support from our sponsors and community members, we would not be able to fulfill the primary mission of this event—to educate local students on the historic significance of cemeteries.
Download our 2023 Sponsorship Information packet for information on becoming a sponsor. Download our 2023 Advertising packet for information on advertising in our playbill. For questions, contact Norris Porter.
History of Evergreen Cemetery Walk
Evergreen Memorial Cemetery is one of the richest historical resources in our community. However, through the 1950s-1990s, the cemetery struggled with maintenance and vandalism. In 1986, vandals overturned 35 headstones—bringing the total to 200 for the previous two years; more vandalism occurred in September 1990.
In an effort to prevent further vandalism, Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, McLean County Museum of History, and Illinois Voices Theatre developed the annual Evergreen Cemetery Walk to teach the community about the historical importance of cemeteries and the need to treat them with respect and reverence. Since the inception of the Walk, instances of vandalism have declined, but do continue. The goals of this program are to bring awareness of this problem to the public’s attention and foster respect for community cemeteries in the young people who participate.
Over the years, the Evergreen Cemetery Walk grew into an award-winning, nationally recognized interpretive program. It is often referred to as the "granddaddy" of all cemetery walks. Every year we bring the voices of McLean County's history to life. Costumed actors portray individuals representing all walks of life from the county's past on the beautiful grounds of Evergreen Memorial Cemetery.
This event serves about 3,500 people (mostly students) every year. To date, we have featured 210 different individuals, whose stories illustrate the impact the people of McLean County have had on history – locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. In addition, the impact of the Walk can be felt throughout the state and nation.
During the COVID-19 pandemic the Walk was forced to navigate some major challenges. In 2020 we were forced to go fully remote, and in 2021 we went hybrid, with an in-person walk with reduced capacity and a virtual video option. We are proud that we were able to meet those challenges head on and continued to host the Walk. In fact, the addition of a virtual option has allowed for a new audience, who previously were unable to due to barriers such as mobility or geography, to enjoy the Walk.
Because of all of this, the Evergreen Cemetery Walk is better than ever. We plan to continue to provide a live in-person Walk in conjunction with a pre-recorded online video. Thank you to our partner Broadleaf Video Management for helping us present a quality virtual production.Download our Cemetery Walk How-To Manual