VENTURA : 'Funeral' to Focus on Libraries' Plight

A New Orleans-style funeral procession--complete with jazz musicians and mourners dressed in black--will wind through Ventura on Saturday morning to dramatize the plight of the city's libraries.

To the tune of slow-paced gospel music, pallbearers will carry a casket containing children's books and the Dr. Seuss character Cat in the Hat down city sidewalks.

The event, one of several planned to generate support for a property tax hike initiative that would help keep cash-poor libraries open, begins in Plaza Park at 10 a.m. and proceeds down Santa Clara Street.

If two-thirds of Ventura voters who turn out Nov. 7 vote for Measure L, property taxes would increase $35 per parcel, raising $1 million in additional revenues for libraries. Trish Cavanaugh, a campaign volunteer, said the Avenue Library and possibly others would close while many would have to cut back their hours if the measure fails.

Cavanaugh said the mock funeral serves to illustrate that libraries "will die" without their help.

Following the procession, mourners will again congregate in Plaza Park for a mock graveside service. In accordance with New Orleans funeral custom, after a "minister" performs the solemn rites, the mourners will celebrate by dancing back to the library on East Main Street to jazz tunes such as "When the Saints Go Marching In."

"People are encouraged to join the procession," Cavanaugh said.

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