I did not expect 2022 to be like this.

When the year started, I expected 2022 to be like 2021, 2020, 2019, and in a sense 2018 and 2017 too. It has been five long years of wanting to do cemetery tours the way I wanted to, under my own control, sharing my own stories. More than once I wanted to just throw in the towel. Probably the only thing that kept me from doing that was this game. A lot of time and money went into his game, and it’s still the only resource out there for stories of the Regina Cemetery. It’s not bug-free, and it’s not accessible to all users, but it’s the only resource out there. It has a lot of potential.

So, because it’s been five years of the tours not happening the way I hoped, I expected the year to be the same. I decided to book a month-long trip to Peru in August. Why not? I had nothing big planned this year.

But this changed in March. A city councilman mentioned that I should speak at the Executive Committee and make a statement about my struggles to start the cemetery tours. It was here that the first draft of the cemetery event policy was first discussed by the city council, even though it had been in the works for a few months. This was the first time I felt my concerns were being listened to. Parts of the bylaw were revised and struck down. Actual progress was happening (although the folks at the city had been working on it for some time). A few months later, that final document was approved, and I met with the city to discuss it. I agreed with almost every piece of the document. I was thrilled.

Finally, after so many years, the tours could finally happen.

…and they did! The policy was approved in June, and the tours started in July. Unfortunately, I was in Peru in August, so the tours stopped, but they picked right back up again in a flurry.

Outside of private groups, I sold 69 tickets in July, 88 in September and 41 in October. I reduced the number of tickets I could sell in September and October compared to July, but almost every tour was sold-out, or near selling out.

When the final tour was completed, we sold 198 tickets and raised $1,881.00.

This money’s purpose was to be donated back to the cemetery to help fix the graves. However, I decided to change this last-minute, and I hope you can forgive me for that. 90% of the proceeds went to the city cemetery to fix the graves. The other 10% went to Beth Jacob’s Synagogue. I did this because one of the tour stops is in Beth Jacob’s Cemetery, so I felt that was only proper that they got some of the proceeds too.

I also decided to round up the total, and $2,000 were donated collectively — $1,800 to the city, and $200 to the synagogue.

When I first proposed my idea of cemetery tours in 2017, I wanted the money from the tours to fund the Spanish Influenza Memorial. A lot of people said it couldn’t be done, or it wouldn’t be lucrative enough. The memorial cost around $8,000. I really believe that the tours could have done it, or at least done it over time. This was the first year that I can say with confidence that could have. I knew it all along. $2,000 isn’t much, but it’s a testament to the potential these tours have, and the attendance showed the dedication you have to come on these tours.

So, thank you for everything in 2022. It wasn’t because of me that this happened. I’ve stood alone in the cemetery many times. It was because of you, who showed up in the blazing heat, in the snow, in the rain, at night, and in the afternoon; it was you who donated your time and money to make this happen.

So, thank you for all you did in 2022. This isn’t what I expected the year to be like, but I am excited to see what will happen in 2023.

And that’s a really nice change.

I look forward to seeing you all in the cemetery in 2023!