Caesar was praised and buried at the Congressional Cemetery at 18th and E Streets SE on Sunday. Hamlet bantered with the gravedigger, while clowns fashioned pink poodles out of balloons. Characters from "Star Wars" jumped off tombstones while three sheep grazed on the honeysuckle and wild grape vines that cover many of the gravestones.
It was all part of the second annual All Hallows Eve Celebration held to raise funds for the historic out poor cemetery.
"If they had about 30 sheep here, they'd take care of keeping the grass down," said Col. Samuel Crook, a retired Army officer from Burtonsville and owner of Libby, Viola, and Bonny, the sheep, which chewed happily on weeds and endured being petted by affectionate children.
Crook said the sheep had been invited to the cemetery by Inez Ransom of Forest Heights, a member of the board of the Association for the Preservation of Historic Congressional Cemetery. Ransom said she wanted to make the point that because a House-Senate conference committee killed a $225.000 appropriation to help restore the cemetery last July, the association had to get maintenance help from another source.
In addition to the sheep, the celebration featured the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard, the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, clowns from the Almas Temple, cemetery scenes from "Hamlet" and "Julius Caesar" by the Folget Theater Group and continuous cartoon shows in the chapel.
About 200 adults and dozens of children - most in Halloween costumes - attended the event. Most of the adults contributed $12 each - $9 for members of the cemetery association - and received a box lunch of cheese, salami, cole slaw, cookies, an apple, and cider, plain or spiked with vodka. Kate Christian, who helped pass out the lunches and punch the drink tickets, wore a name tag that read "Concerned Citizens of Potomac Avenue SE."
"That's our block club," said Christian "I live right across the street from the cemetery, and I'd like to see it get back to what it was 10 years ago or so. The place was gorgeous then. Now the grass is standing high, and there are wild dogs. It's an eyesore, and would be a wise move to restore it."
Picnickers spread their lunches out on the grass nad enjoyed the sunshine. Mothers nursed their babies, and young pirates and princess played on and among the tombstones. One Darth Vader dared another to go down into the opened vault of the Gadsby family, founders of Gladsby's Tavern in Alexandria. The other Darth Vader gingerly entered the tomb, warning: "Don't close the door or you'll be dead tomorrow."
Many of the people used the maps provided at the gale and went on walking tours of the 33-acre burying ground. At the grave of Pushmataha, a Choctaw Indian chief's new marble monument. Rhymes, a lobbyist for man-made fibers who is working on a historical novel about Pushmataha, raised $2,000 to replace the deteriorating sandstone memorial with an exact duplicate in Tennessee marble.
Armed into the maps, cemetery buffs wandered in search of the graves of Taza, son of Cochise, and photographer Matthew Brady.
First prize in the costume contest went to Catherine Harris, 3, of Reston, her mother, and her doll - all of whom wore identical Raggedy Anne costumers with red yarn wigs. Suzanne Duvall, 9, of Bethesda, whose great-grandfather designed their family monument at the cemetery, won a prize for being a witch with a scary green mask.
Eric Celerier, 12, of 220 9th St. NE, in a more elaborate "Star Wars" costume than the other extra-planetary contenders, won a Star Wars game. A brother and sister act. Nicholas Nowak, 5, and his sister Maggie, 2, of 230 8th St. SE, won a prize for their portrayal of the Lone Ranger and Tonto.
A little away from the judging area, Edna Mansfield Boyd. Elsie Louise Hill, and Ethel M. King, all of Hillcrest Heights, sat on folding chairs near King's family plot.
"We're just reminiscing about old times here at the cemetery," said Boyd, whogrew up on 11th Street SE. "It was so beautiful. We used to walk up here on Decoration Day. The Marine Band would play and we'd spend the whole day here.My parents and grandparents are buried here - they were parishioners of Christ Church. Not tobe egotistical, but the elite were buried here."
Boyd, Hill and King are all members of Christ Church of Capitol Hill, which has owned the cemetery since 1812. It was the traditional burial place for members of Congress and high government officials until Arlington Cemetery was founded after the civil war. In March 1976, the church leased the cemetery to the Association for the Preservation for the Preservation of Historic Congressional Cemetery.
Francis W. Kraemer Jr., the association president, said that the Veterans Administration has expressed an interest in taking over the cemetery, but that it would have to have clear title to every plot.
"It would be impossible to trace all the plot owners," he said, indicating that there are from 60,000 to 80,000 people buried in Congressional.