There are not many places you can spend a pleasant evening in a cemetery, dining with friends, bidding on great items and meeting some of Osceola County’s passed citizens.
Amid some controversy, our first Dine with the Departed was held on March 13, 2010 in historic Rose Hill Cemetery. The decision was made by the Osceola County Historical Society to host something different – not the usual ghost tour, generally occurring in October, but to present an educational evening, striving to raise funds for the organization.
Working in collaboration with the City of Kissimmee, OCHS was permitted to erect a dining tent in Rose Hill Cemetery for the event. Biographies were compiled on prominent men and women buried there who had made contributions to the county – businessmen, politicians, those involved in community organizations and some who were just interesting characters. Volunteers were recruited to portray the part of the deceased citizens and also to serve as tour guides for the evening.
Following the meal, diners were taken in groups through luminary lit paths to meet those “featured guests”, who regaled all with stories of their lives and families.
Since Dine with the Departed became an instant success, the event has continued to be a major fundraiser for OCHS, with many of our attendees returning every year.
Silent auction and live auctions for items donated continue to add to the evening’s festivities. Sponsors help to defray rental costs for tents, tables and food. OCHS has also begun to enlist the aid of Osceola Arts actors to portray the historic figures, the Boys Scouts to assist with parking and TECO PATHS Interact Club to provide wait staff.
Making a debut at our 2016 event was a circa-1890 antique horse-drawn hearse donated to OCHS by Osceola Memory Gardens.