By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Special Correspondent
Each summer, Vine Lake Cemetery welcomes visitors to explore Medfield’s history with tours and activities. On Saturday, August 19th, members of the trustees of Vine Lake welcomed families on a fun scavenger hunt around the oldest section of the cemetery.
Each participant received 10 questions, each one centered around a particular grave or memorial in the cemetery. Participants went at their own pace, gradually finding the answers to each fill-in-the-blank question. The scavenger hunt was designed to entertain students ages nine and up.
The treasure hunt gave children the opportunity to learn about history outside of a classroom. Established in 1651, Vine Lake Cemetery is one of the oldest burial grounds in Massachusetts. “Students are quite surprised by the amount of history resident in the cemetery,” says Rob Gregg, one of the directors of the Vine Lake Preservation Trustees.
Rather than guiding people around the cemetery like he usually does, Gregg handed out the list of questions for visitors. The questions of the treasure hunt centered around a variety of people. Among them were a former slave, the first Medfielder killed while fighting in the Civil War, and the first minister of the town.
The scavenger hunt provided a fun way for visitors to learn not only about the town’s history, but also the art on the markers. The final question of the scavenger hunt asked participants to observe the image on the grave of John Fisher, who died in 1777, and provide answers as to what it could be. The answer: a rising and setting sun.
After attending the scavenger hunt Gregg “hopes that students understand the cemetery is a sacred place where people come to be buried. It’s our last tangible contact as to who these people are.” These annual activities give younger residents the chance to explore the lives of the people who lived before them while learning how to respect the cemetery.
As always, the activities at Vine Lake temporarily turned the cemetery into a lively place. “For the people who come, they will have a very good time,” says Gregg.
Plans are already in the works for next summer’s activities that will allow visitors an even more interactive experience with history.