New Orleans (WGNO) - Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 was alive Thursday night.
A second line led by the Skinz N Bonez bone gang kicked off a fundraiser in support of a very special family tomb that's getting a makeover.
The name on the tomb reads, "KARSTENDIEK" -- but it's better known as "Lestat's tomb," because Anne Rice was inspired by its intricate design and elaborate style. The regal white-but rusting cast-iron structure needs repairs inside and out, to the tune of $50,000 to $70,000, according to Amanda Walker, the Executive Director of Save Our Cemeteries.
The Karstendiek Family tomb is one of only 16 cast-iron tombs in New Orleans. It bears a strong resemblance to the one featured in the movie version of Rices's Interview with the Vampire.
"Unless someone steps in, these structures are going to fall to the ground--and unfortunately a lot of tombs have fallen to the ground. We 're the only ones doing this in New Orleans so we've got to save these treasures--and this one is very unique," says Walker.
Two members of the Karstendiek family, Pepper and Peggy, traveled from Austin, Texas to join the fundraiser--and they proudly led the second line parade.
"My great-great grandfather immigrated from Germany sometime in the 1850s. We don't have the exact papers, but we know by 1860 he was established here and that he imported the cast-iron tomb from Germany," says Pepper Karstendiek. Since discovering the family tomb by chance more than 30 years ago, they've been visiting it at least once a year.
Peggy says they have no idea who is actually buried inside, and hopes the restoration project may reveal some answers. The family is thrilled that pop culture has put a spotlight on the tomb and given it star status in New Orleans.
Pepper says they were "flabbergasted" when they learned the Karstendiek tomb had been a source of inspiration for Rice.