Grave Circumstances

Before it was scientifically possible to achieve eternal life (and youth) with Botox, vitamin water and $200 jars of Crme de la Mer, people actually died in Orange County, croaking from real and terrible events that are more American than apple pie and energy-drink addictions. The economic mindfuck of the Great Depression, the (surprise!) shock of Pearl Harbor, the horrific death of balloonist Emil Markeburg before 8,000 onlookers and the 1933 earthquake that showed why building codes are a necessity all put OC residents in early graves for better or worse. And while some preferred their ashes to be scattered over sentimental oceans, others have had their bones housed indefinitely under tear-soaked manicured lawns, resting in a tangle of roots and worms, with the promise their stories will not be forgotten.

Just in time for Halloween, the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society has lowered the drawbridge between the underworld and the people trying so hard to stay out of it. The ninth-annual Historical Cemetery Tour offers "stories of Orange County residents that lived through these trying times. Some of their stories will be touching, some inspirational." Be a part of living history (complete with costumed re-enactors) while respectfully tromping over the remains of people whose luck or circumstance had it all cut short.

The Perils of OC: The Calamities that Shook Orange County at the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society, 120 Civic Center Dr. W., Santa Ana, (714) 953-1876; Sat., 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $18; seniors, $15; kids, $12. Reservations recommended.

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