NEW ORLEANS -- Tourists are endlessly fascinated by New Orleans cemeteries, especially the tomb where voodoo priestess Marie Laveau is supposedly buried.
"It's the first time we've been to New Orleans, so this culture is new to us, and we've learned a lot already. And it's pretty interesting," said Jeff Robins of Chicago.
The old tomb is in bad shape, covered in scrawled triple Xs, and there are plants growing on the roof.
"This tomb is almost 200 years old," said Mandy Walker of Save Our Cemeteries. "The plaster is falling off. It has latex paint on it."
Last December someone covered the tomb in pink latex paint, which was then sand-blasted off. Now tomb restoration experts at Bayou Preservation have a plan to repair it.
"If you go up and feel it, you can really tell that that plaster is coming off of the brick substrate, so we're going to remove the bad plaster first," said Michelle Duhon of Bayou Restoration. "We'll keep the good plaster, remove the painted marks off the good plaster, fill in the holes with new plaster, and treat the marble."
For a complex restoration like this, the price tag is about $10,000. The Archdiocese and Save Our Cemeteries are working together to make it happen, but they need your help.
"Yes, they're making a difference," said Walker about donors. "We're a very small non-profit, and we need the public's help to restore this tomb. We've raised about half of the funds."
The experts say the restoration is an expensive process, done by hand.
"If people don't mark on it, it would last for decades," said Duhon.
"So what would you say if people are wondering whether they should help out in this operation? I would say if they can, do," said tour guide Nate Scott.
For more about helping the Marie Laveau Tomb Restoration, call Save Our Cemeteries at 525-3377, or visit their website at www.saveourcemeteries.org.