Cemeteries - Not Just For Funerals
By Catherine Olen
Can you recall the last time you set foot inside a
cemetery? Was there a death in the family or were you
visiting the grave site of a relative to place flowers
and then get back in the car and drive away? This is how
most people in western society experience cemeteries in
the US. Never does it cross into the mind of most folks
that these plots of ground with stone gardens of
monuments can actually be fun and an unusual source of
entertainment, especially in the Los Angeles area.
The local cemeteries in So. California have some of the
greatest experiences in the city.
Did you know that at Hollywood Forever cemetery in Santa
Monica Blvd, you can see classic movies every Saturday
night during the summer? Any given weekend evening, just
drive by the gates of this famous land mark and see an
enormous gathering of people with beach chairs, picnics
and bottles of wine in hand lined up on the street
waiting to walk through the cemetery and watch films on
the side of the mausoleum. An eclectic assortment of
people from the artistic to gothic or families with
multiple generations enjoying the scenery and comradery.
These weekly events have become so popular, if you do
not get in line at least two hour prior to the opening,
you will not find a seat.
Another great experience is the Dia De La Muerta or the
Day of the dead celebration at this same cemetery.
Hollywood Forever opens its gates to families to
decorate the graves with the traditional Mexican altars
for this unique celebration. Authentic food and beverage
tents are set up for the tourists and locals to sample
the cuisine. Enjoy your time watching the dancers and
other performers on stages set up around the sites.
While this is only a two evening event, more than one
million people walk through the cemetery to be a part of
The Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills memorial Park has its
own traditions including the Memorial Day festivities.
They pull out all the stops with full color guard,
traditional music and key note addresses from some of
the most prominent locals. Take this opportunity to see
for yourself the majesty of the Birth of Liberty mosaic
above the stage and marvel in the surroundings including
the bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln and exact replica
of the Old North Church in Boston.
If you're looking for something a little more
traditional, check out the annual Rudolph Valentino
memorial held at Hollywood Forever. For 82 years, people
have gathered on August 23 at 12:10 pm, the time of
Valentino's death, to honor this life taken far too
early. Hear readings, music, and eulogies from those
that knew the great talent.
At the same time of year, attend the Memorial for the
great Marilyn Monroe held at Westwood memorial Park on
August 4. Hear the passion of this group as they express
the continued love and devotion to the platinum blonde.
Visit her crypt as flowers, cards and other tributes are
collected to show respect. Come early, the chapel is
small and fills to capacity every year.
Little did you dream that the cemeteries could hold such
entertainment. Not just for funerals anymore!