Bluff City Cemetery Walk goes online Sunday

  • A scene about the 1916 typhoid fever epidemic in Elgin is among six featured in a recorded version of the 2020 Bluff City Cemetery Walk that will be shown on the Elgin History Museum's YouTube channel. Pictured are actors Nikki Macey, left, R. Scott Purdy and Riley Galfi.

    A scene about the 1916 typhoid fever epidemic in Elgin is among six featured in a recorded version of the 2020 Bluff City Cemetery Walk that will be shown on the Elgin History Museum's YouTube channel. Pictured are actors Nikki Macey, left, R. Scott Purdy and Riley Galfi. COURTESY OF ELGIN HISTORY MUSEUM

  • Carolyn Larson portrays Ruth Ann Kimball in the 2020 Bluff City Cemetery Walk. The program was filmed this year and will be shown on the Elgin History Museum's YouTube channel.

    Carolyn Larson portrays Ruth Ann Kimball in the 2020 Bluff City Cemetery Walk. The program was filmed this year and will be shown on the Elgin History Museum's YouTube channel. COURTESY OF ELGIN HISTORY MUSEUM

 
 
Updated 9/25/2020 5:10 PM

The 33rd Annual Bluff City Cemetery Walk will be a walk in name only this year.

Due to COVID-19 safety concerns for attendees and actors, organizers decided in July to record the event and post it online, rather than cancel. "Now it's a virtual walk," said Rudy Galfi, who is charing the event with his wife, Lillian.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The presentation will be available on the Elgin History Museum's YouTube channel at 9 a.m. Sunday, and available to watch on demand until Oct. 4.

The museum, which puts on the walk, received a grant it used to purchase video and sound equipment to record the scenes. The Galfis, who have run the project for the past two years, did the filming and brought in direction help from friend Gail Cannata, who is the artistic director of the Gallery Theater in West Chicago.

"It's a whole learning curve with volunteer actors, and we tried to do it as professionally as we could," Rudy Galfi said. "I think we've got a really good product."

The shooting was completed on the six scenes over four days. Included among them is a seemingly prescient presentation about the 1916 typhoid fever epidemic at the watch factory in Elgin.

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"We decided on this before the pandemic," Rudy Galfi said. "I was doing some research and found a binder in the museum library about it and thought it was something not a lot of people knew about."

He said the script was written before the pandemic but organizers found a lot of similarities to what's happening today.

"How the public reacted, how the doctors and city officials reacted, what the public thoughts were and a lot of controversy," Galfi said.

This year's walk was planned to expanded to two days to draw more people, but organizers now have a chance for a wider audience.

"We've realized that doing it through social media, we can expand our market to just about anyone in the world who has an interest in it," Galfi said.

The program, which cost $12 to $15 to attend, will be offered for free on the museum's YouTube channel, though online donations will be accepted. Run time is about an hour instead of the 90 minutes it would take with actual walking time. An online PDF will take the place of a booklet that is normally given to guests.

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