Sunday, January 20, 2008
The Poe Toaster
Last night, it happened again. Every year on January 19th, a mysterious man pays a late night visit to the Westminster Hall and Burying Ground in Baltimore, Maryland. Dressed in black from head to toe, his face hidden by a scarf and a silver-tipped cane in one hand, the man glides through the cemetery and stops in front of an old gravestone. There, he deposits three red roses on the grave and pulls out a bottle of cognac. He toasts the man who was once buried beneath his feet before resting the bottle against the headstone and quickly exiting the graveyard.
Since 1949, the same scene has taken place at Edgar Allen Poe's original gravesite on the anniversary of the great author's birth. No one knows (for sure) who the "Poe Toaster" is--or what led him to start such an unusual tradition. In recent years, crowds of spectators have begun waiting inside the cemetery, hoping to catch a glimpse of the black-clad figure. Usually, they keep a respectful distance. (There was one unfortunate incident in 2006.) This year over 150 people gathered to witness the spectacle. Thankfully all those present allowed the Poe Toaster to go about his business in peace.
For more information (and to see the only known picture of the Poe Toaster), click here.