Many Beliefs, One Faith

City of the Dead

NOTE: More information on Facebook. Search for City of the Dead – Muskegon
Also, email or
find us on Facebook at
City of the Dead is an annual, family-friendly immersive theater event featuring actors portraying the figures prominent (and not so prominent) from Muskegon history at their burial places in Evergreen Cemetery (391 Irwin Ave.). The event is sponsored by Harbor Unitarian Universalist Congregation.
The event began in 2010 when this church was looking for a fun way to raise some money to support their Religious Education program. The exploration of history and understanding those who have lived in the past are a part of the church’s values as they seek to acknowledge the inherent worth and dignity of all people. History can also help to foster equity and compassion in human relations, acceptance of other people and their growth, encourage the free and responsible search for truth and meaning, and foster the concept of a world community. All these things are values held by Unitarian Universalist congregations like Harbor UU.
The event has steadily grown each year in participation and attendance, becoming popular among community residents as well as bringing guests from other locations.
Evergreen Cemetery had its beginnings in 1862, only one year after Muskegon became a village. The 10 acres on Irwin Avenue was sold to the Village of Muskegon by Mayor Chauncey Davis. It was so far removed from town center it was thought the village would never extend to the scruffy piece of real estate.
A Ladies Cemetery Association was formed to make it a fit place to bury the beloved departed, planting trees and flower beds and installing fences and gates. Each year they prepared an annual report published in the newspaper. An article in the Chronicle (13 May 1899) called “Cities of the Dead” tells the story of the cemetery quite well including such information as how many were buried that year, how many were buried in potter’s field, and what new monuments were erected.
This is an example of the stories cast members of City of the Dead-Muskegon share with their audience. City of the Dead highlights Muskegon’s industrial and entrepreneurial past and seeks to accurately portray the people who shaped this city in an informative and respectful way. Period games and traditions are also demonstrated when appropriate to the people portrayed. Tour guides lead groups through the Victorian garden cemetery that features towering monuments and towering trees while introducing guests to some of Evergreen Cemetery’s residents. The cast interpret those lives using historical documentation, time-period clothing, context, and language.
Please visit our Facebook page, City of the Dead – Muskegon for updates, more information, or if you are interested in joining our cast.