Photo Credit: Linda Bell
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What is the Gravediggers’ Ball?
The Gravediggers’ Ball is the annual fundraiser of the Friends of Laurel Hill & West Laurel Hill Cemeteries, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to preserve, interpret and promote the site for which it exists. Since its establishment in 1836, Laurel Hill Cemetery and 33 years later in 1869, West Laurel Hill Cemetery have both been maintained as free and accessible educational, environmental and recreational resources for both nearby communities and faraway visitors. They have served equally as places of enjoyment for the living and of peaceful rest for the dead for over 150 years. All proceeds from the Gravediggers’ Ball directly support the ongoing public accessibility, preservation and interpretation of both historic cemeteries.
Why Support the Friends of Laurel Hill & West Laurel Hill Cemeteries?
In 1978, John Francis Marion, friend of the cemetery along with Drayton and Jane Smith, descendants of one of Laurel Hill Cemetery’s founder John Jay Smith, founded the Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery. The Friends is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and was established to support the cemeteries. The mission of the Friends is to preserve, protect, and promote the historical and visual character of both historic sites through progressive interpretation, education, and fundraising. In addition to developing and implementing educational programs, the Friends sponsor special events, including the cemeteries’ famous Halloween festivities, and offer both public and private tours of the sites, often in collaboration with local school, nonprofit groups, and historical organizations.
Laurel Hill and West Laurel Hill Cemeteries continue to serve the people of Philadelphia and the region as peaceful places of rest for the dead and beautiful places of respite for the living.