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Photo courtesy of Carl Ballenas
Photo courtesy of Carl Ballenas

Spend some quality time with the Saw Lady, the Puzzle King, and an Irish poet’s reincarnation.

Maple Grove Cemetery will present Spirits Alive on Saturday, Oct. 1, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wearing period costumes, hired actors will portray some of the interesting “permanent residents” of the Kew Gardens burial ground and recount tales of their lives through memories and speeches.

Strollers on a self-guided tour might bump into a living replica of James McCarroll, a 19th century Irish poet, fiction writer, editor, and inventor. They also might hang out with World War I flying ace Wilfred Suber and David Jobson, who died penniless in 1876, but at one time was the surgeon and dentist to King William IV and Queen Victoria of the English Empire.

Part of the fun will include Natalia Paruz, an Astoria resident known as “The Saw Lady.” She will fill the graveyard’s nooks and crannies with a haunting sound by playing – what else? – a saw. This frequent subway performer — who has appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” and Motorola commercials – is a classically trained pianist who dazzles audiences by playing saws with a violin or cello bow.

At 3:30 p.m. in the Victorian Monumental Park Section, cemetery officials will unveil a bronze plaque honoring another permanent resident, Sam “Puzzle King” Loyd, to mark the 175th anniversary of his birth. The Philadelphia native is an inductee into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame who was the world’s 15th best player at one time. He made a small fortune by inventing Trick Donkeys, a card with printed images of donkeys and riders that must be arranged in mounted form. He created more than 10,000 puzzles before his death in 1911.

Editor’s note: Admission is free, but donations will be solicited. Attendees are encouraged to wear period costumes.


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