Every year the Mt. Olivet Cemetery Association invites the public to participate in its annual All Saints’/Souls’ Day Celebration on the Sunday before Halloween. The celebration is free and open to the public.
All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day have been celebrated for thousands of years by cultures and religions around the world to honor deceased family members. Customs include lighting candles, offering prayers, cleaning and decorating of family members’ graves, and sharing food with friends and family.
The setting is historic Mt. Olivet Cemetery located at 2340 Fulton Avenue (Route T) in Hannibal, MO. A memorial balloon release, sponsored by the James O’Donnell Funeral Home, is held at the chapel area. Jim O’Donnell says, “Our goal is to celebrate the lives of those who have passed while providing comfort and healing to family and friends.”
Tim Goodman, minister of Clover Road Christian Church, has officiated the ceremony since its inception. In the shadows of the stained-glass windows, Pamela Reed-Wilde shares her musical talents, playing the antique pump organ for chapel visitors.
In addition to the balloon release, the James O’Donnell Funeral Home offers attendees the opportunity to Say Something Today. Jim O’Donnell explains, “During memorial services I hear the most thoughtful, sincere remembrances of people in our community. I often wonder if those same people were ever able to hear those beautiful words during their lifetimes. Therefore, we are starting a campaign to encourage friends and neighbors to Say Something Today to the special people in their lives.” www.jamesodonnellfuneralhome.com
In keeping with the celebration’s tradition, family and friends are invited to decorate loved ones’ graves for the winter season then join in an old-fashioned wiener roast around the warmth of a bonfire.
For history buffs, the cemetery staff offers hayride tours of the grounds, highlighting many of Hannibal’s historic figures buried at Mt. Olivet, including: Clemens, Coontz, Dulany, Garth, Gideon, Helm, Mahan, Robards, Stowell, and Faurot. Others enjoy a scavenger hunt for the various symbols carved into the older, ornate monuments.
“We want everyone to experience what we believe is one of Hannibal’s best-kept secrets, the beauty and history that is Mt. Olivet. Designed by the original board of directors as a ‘harmonious union of nature and art,’ Mt. Olivet is a place where early records reveal area residents came to ‘recreate and remember.’ To that end, we invite everyone, regardless of where their loved one is buried, to come participate in our All Souls’/Saints’ Day Celebration,” says Donna Brown, office manager of Mt. Olivet.