Event Winners

First Place

French Funerals-Cremations/Sunset Memorial Park: Scatter Day • Albuquerque, New Mexico

French Funerals-Cremations and Sunset Memorial Park generated their first “Scatter Day” event in August 2017 to begin the process of changing the perception and conversation of cremated remains not being the final  disposition. Scatter Day was used to show anyone in the community that they can bring their cremated remains to Sunset Memorial Park and scatter them for free.

Honorable Mention

Los Parques, S.A. : “Memories of Light” • Guatemala, Guatemala

 

First Place

Sunset Memorial Park/French Funerals-Cremations: Green Army Man-themed Memorial Day Celebration • Albuquerque, New Mexico

To educate and inform their population on the meaning and importance of Memorial Day, Sunset Memorial Park set out the entire month of May 2016 to engage and interact with the public throughout the city. Interactions included a gigantic 3D billboard, groups of professional actors and finally, a full-size field kitchen – all green army men-themed. Actors stood on what looked like plastic stands and were completely still. On Memorial Day itself, the green army men acted out on the field kitchen, peeling potatoes and washing dishes. The actors wore microphones and told stories about New Mexico veterans who are buried at Sunset Memorial Park.

Honorable Mention

White Chapel Memorial Park Cemetery: Patriots Race • Troy, Michigan

As being known for their on-site events to honor U.S. Veterans, White Chapel hosted their inaugural patriot-themed 5K race, a one mile run/walk and the unveiling of the War on Terror Memorial – the 15th anniversary of 9/11. White Chapel conducted research and established communication strategies and tactics to be able to pull off this event successfully. Over 350 people participated in this event. The runners and walkers could also receive a massage from a local massage company after the race. White Chapel set up food tents and eating areas, receiving assistance from local restaurants. A children’s activities area was set up where they could write thank you notes to those serving overseas, play games and receive face painting.

First Place

Catholic Cemeteries Archdiocese of Newark: Birdhouse Event • Newark, New Jersey

What began as an effort to educate students in the value of cemeteries, Catholic Cemeteries created a birdhouse building program. The students assemble these birdhouses during the summer work program and share stories about people close to them that have passed on. They are allowed to personalize their birdhouse in memory of their loved ones and the Catholic Cemeteries provides a small plaque for these houses. Later, the students and their families will return to see their birdhouses being occupied by local wildlife and enjoy the natural beauty of the cemetery. The media coverage surrounding the event has brought new visitors to see the birdhouses, as well as people who are interested in sponsoring them.

Honorable Mention

Cook Funeral and Cremation Services (Cook Family Services): Widows and Widowers Picnic • Grandville, Michigan

The family and staff of Cook Funeral Home and Cremation Services are committed to helping individuals in the community who have lost their loved ones. They host many social events during the year to give these individuals an opportunity to come out and socialize with others who have lost loved ones. An example of these events is the Widows and Widowers Picnic. Men and women who have lost their partners are invited to bring a friend or guest to an outdoor event. Music and food are offered to create an uplifting and welcoming atmosphere for the attendees to make connections with others in the community as well as preneed staff. The guests leave with a gift bag, cookie trays and most of all, new friends.

 

First Place

Cook Funeral and Cremation Services (Cook Family Services): Drive Text Free Event • Grandville, MI

When a funeral home promotes a campaign to save lives, it strikes a chord. The Drive Text Free event had many phases, which included attending high school sporting events with t-shirts, wrist bands and a video that was produced by local high school talent. The video was the foundation of the event and featured a high school student who was killed while responding to his mother’s text. Most videos would focus on the accident itself but this video was centered at a funeral home visitation room where the student is lying in the casket, wakes up and realizes what happened. He tries to speak to family and friends, though no one can hear him. This event had a lasting impact on the community.

Honorable Mention

Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens: Fallen Hero’s Day • Timonium, MD

1,200 people gather under a huge white tent beside the Fallen Heroes Memorial at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens to honor members of the Maryland Public Safety community whose lives were taken in the line of duty within the past year. On May 2, 2014, Annual Fallen Heroes Day attracted hundreds of law enforcement officers, firefighters, dignitaries, members of the community, family, friends and media. Fallen Heroes day salutes police, correctional officers, firefighters, emergency medical and rescue personnel who risk their lives every day to protect the citizens of Maryland. It is the only statewide ceremony in the nation that brings together all segments of the public safety community. Toward the end of the ceremony, each fallen heroes were remembered with a brief description of how he served his community and how he died. Families are presented with a replica of the Fallen Heroes Memorial and a resolution from the Maryland General Assembly. This event allows survivors of the fallen heroes find solace in the outpouring of support for them and their loved ones.

 

First Place

Cook Funeral and Cremation Services (Cook Family Services): Tree Lighting Service • Grandville, MI

The holidays can be a particularly tough time for those who have lost loved ones. Cook invites their community to participate in a tree lighting and memorial service. A banner is placed near the tree that includes all of the names of deceased loved ones from the community. Families search for their loved ones names and as they touch them, the scene is reminiscent of the Vietnam Memorial. It is a private and moving moment. Once the tree is lit, it stands day and night as a visual reminder of all of those loved ones that the community has lost.

Honorable Mention

Chapel of the Roses: Sandy Hook Elementary Snowflake Drive • Atascadero, CA

Like all of us, the staff at Chapel of the Roses was deeply affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy. Working with the National Parent Teacher Association, they hosted two “Snowflake Drives” in which their community was invited to create unique snowflakes to send back to Sandy Hook Elementary. Chapels of the Roses and their community were able to create 500 snowflakes to decorate the school with. Once the children were able to return they were greeted with a “blizzard of love and support in the form of snowflakes.”

 

First Place

Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home and Cemeteries • New Orleans, Louisiana

In April 2012, Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home and Cemeteries hosted the 11th annual “A Run Through History.” The event is a one-mile and 5K walk/run through the historic grounds of Metairie Cemetery. The event drew over 1,250 people and benefits the local non-profit Save Our Cemeteries, an organization whose mission is to preserve and protect the historic cemeteries of New Orleans.
“A Run Through History” is the largest U.S. walk/run held in a cemetery in the country. In addition to the walk/run, the event also hosts local restaurants, live music, health care providers and refreshment providers. This event exposes large numbers of people to the cemetery and is not grief related. www.lakelawnmetairie.com

Honorable Mentions

Mt. Olivet Cemetery • Detroit, Michigan

For the past five years, Mt. Olivet Cemetery has hosted the Sunrise Run. The 5K and 10K runs raise money for the Mt. Elliott Cemetery Association’s bike team, which rides in the three day, 300 mile Make-a-Wish of Michigan Wish-A-Mile ride. The run takes place through the grounds of Mt. Olivet Cemetery and each runner receives a T-shirt and the winners receive medals and trophies. The run is then concluded with a pancake breakfast. Due to the success of the Sunrise Run, each year Mt. Olivet Cemetery donates $12,000 to $20,000 to Make-a-Wish of Michigan. www.mtelliott.com

Valhalla Funeral Home and Memory Gardens • Huntsville, Alabama

To help broaden people’s perception of funeral homes and cemeteries and instill the idea that these facilities are places where people can gather for reasons other than somber services, Valhalla Funeral Home and Memory Gardens hosted a free flower arranging workshop. The workshop invited people to come to a happy event at the funeral home and learn how to make inexpensive, yet beautiful, silk flower arrangements. Because of space restrictions, Valhalla Funeral Home had to limit reservations to 90 participants, three times their original estimate. The event ran smoothly and all the attendees enjoyed themselves. Valhalla Funeral Home received compliments about the event, and questions about when the next workshop would be held. www.valhallafunerals.com

 

First Place

Prospect Hill Cemetery & Cremation Gardens • York, Pennsylvania

In August 2005, Prospect Hill Cemetery created an Iraq War Memorial following a week in which eight Pennsylvania National Guardsmen lost their lives. Over the next five years, there were 18 ceremonies to read the names of fallen U.S. soldiers and to add to the display in their memory. By December 2010, it grew to more than 6,047 flags. The flags were removed only during the winter to shield them from the elements. After the United States declared an end to combat operations in Iraq, the staff decided to retire 4,427 flags, which represent U.S. losses in Iraq, on December 7, 2010. In accordance with the U.S. Flag Code, the flags were burned in an empty grave where the display once stood and entombed so they would always be a part of the cemetery. Family members of fallen soldiers were welcomed to help in the ceremony. A permanent memorial will be erected on the site to honor and remember the combat losses. The event garnered a tremendous amount of media attention. www.prospecthill.org

Honorable Mentions

The Gardens at Gethsemane • West Roxbury, Massachusetts

The Gardens at Gethsemane welcomed more than 2,000 community members onto their property for a Pumpkin Day last October. The cemetery wanted to attract the general public to their grounds—especially the children—to see that cemeteries are not sad or scary places, but rather are places filled with love, remembrance and heritage. More than 1,100 pumpkins were presented to children who attended. Other event highlights included face painting, pumpkin bowling, arts and crafts, moonwalks, a costume contest and more. The cemetery partnered with the local Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs, the YMCA and Mount Ida College with proceeds benefitting local children’s programs. www.thegardenscemetery.org

Fairhaven Memorial Park • Santa Ana, California

To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Fairhaven Memorial Park held an “old-fashioned family fair” to thank the community for allowing Fairhaven to provide the families of Orange County with 100 years of “service from the heart.” The festivities begin with president Marla Noel recognizing that it is Fairhaven’s caring and dedicated staff that have allowed them to each such a monumental occasion. The ensuing program included:

  • a “Capturing the Uniqueness of Orange County’s History” photo contest with a $250 prize
  • a “History Hunt” where participants received clues that led them from one of Fairhaven’s features or famous person’s grave to another
  • carnival games, bake off, pie eating contest and other games and activities
  • horse-drawn carriage rides
  • a concert in the park
  • a VIP wine and cheese reception where guests received a commemorative picnic basket to enjoy during the evening concert

The celebration ended with a spectacular fireworks display. www.fairhavenmemorial.com

 

First Place

Royal Oak Burial Park • Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Royal Oak Burial Park held an event they called Summer So[u]lstice in June 2010 that invited the public to visit the cemetery and see the burial park’s newly opened traditional interment area as well as the Woodlands, Canada’s first urban green burial site (now recognized as a certified natural burial provider by the Green Burial Council of North America). Poets, musicians, a local historian and other artists were on hand to create a friendly, non-threatening and upbeat environment for those who attended. Some of the volunteers assisted families in creating a personal remembrance banner for those who already had family members buried in the park or had family buried elsewhere but just wanted to leave a personal message at the event. The goal of the event was to connect the cemetery to the community in a positive, upbeat manner and demonstrate the valued role cemeteries have as sacred spaces in the community. www.robp.ca

Honorable Mentions

The Wilbert Foundation • Forest Park, Illinois

The Wilbert Foundation, a 501c(3) organization, has donated more than $420,000 and delivered 2,500+ Teddy bears to children’s chaplaincy programs throughout the United States and Canada. In 2007, Wilbert partnered with the Pediatric Chaplains Network to create the Pediatric Chaplains Institute and donated $50,000 to underwrite the development of a grief training curriculum. Since then, Wilbert has donated $5,000 each year in scholarships for chaplains in need of financial support to attend the institute. The program has enabled more than 60 chaplains to receive training for providing spiritual, bereavement and other age-specific support to children and their families. www.wilbertfoundation.org

Sunset Memorial Park, French Family of Companies • Albuquerque, New Mexico

The French Family of Companies has created a semi-annual U.S. flag retirement ceremony in partnership with the Great Southwest Council of the Boy Scouts of America. The event serves many purposes, including: teaching new generations about flag etiquette and protocol; providing a vehicle for local organizations such as the VFW, police and fire departments to properly dispose of worn flags; and serving as one of the key Memorial Day and Veterans Day events in the local community. In addition, the cemetery buried a vault where metal hardware from retired flags and flagpoles may be permanently entombed. www.sunset-memorial.com

 

First Place

Speaks Family Legacy Chapels • Independence, Missouri

Speaks Family Legacy Chapels hosted its Fourth Annual “Lest They Be Forgotten” Veterans Program at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. The program featured the premiere of “Vietnam—Remembered” by documentary filmmaker Larry Cappetto; a recounting of the heroic actions of two Vietnam War Congressional Medal of Honor recipients; a firsthand account of the war and homecoming of the founder of the Heart of America Stand Down Foundation; and a Huey helicopter that was shot down four times during the war. Speaks Chapels also sponsored a movie presentation on public television, a one-hour discussion on public radio, and presenting the Cappetto movie at nursing home veterans programs.

Honorable Mentions

Fu Shou Yuan Cemetery • Shanghai, China

The Shanghai Cancer Rehabilitation Club holds an annual Commemoration Day in their “Forest of Hope and Love” that they built in 2005 in the Fu Shou Yuan Cemetery. The April 16, 2009, event attracted more than 900 members to remember those who have passed away. There was also a “Baptism of Life” celebration for 50 club members to remember their five years of “rebirth” since their cancer went into remission.

Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services • White Plains, New York

Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services held a special seminar with speaker, therapist, life coach and author Ron Villano titled “Embrace the Power of Change.” The event was free and open to the public. The funeral home garnered attention via social networking and through an article in the local newspaper about the upcoming event. MKJ Marketing created a newspaper ad, community poster and Web site banner ad. About 130 people attended and learned how to work through change and cope with the loss of a loved one.

 

First Place

Olinger Mt. Lindo Cemetery • Morrison, Colorado

Olinger Mt. Lindo Cemetery hosts as an annual 5K race, the Hike for Hospice. Now in its 12th year, the purpose of the event is to raise funds and increase awareness of hospice. The hike begins at Olinger Mt. Lindo Cremation Nature Garden & Mausoleum. Olinger employees assist rest stops, provide a personalized dove release in memory of a loved one and provide goodie bags at the finish line. This year’s event had 350 participants and raised more than $10,000 to benefit two hospices.

Honorable Mention

Speaks Family Legacy Chapels • Independence, Missouri

Speaks Family Legacy Chapels’ hosted its Third Annual “Lest They Be Forgotten” Veterans Program at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. During the event, a packed auditorium gathered to watch the premiere of “Korea, The Forgotten War,” by documentary filmmaker Larry Cappetto. Cappetto had spent two days capturing on film the personal stories of families left behind by fallen veterans. David Speaks served as chairman of the event. The colors were posted by the local American Legion post, and following the film, an American flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol was presented to a survivor of the only Congressional Medal of Honor recipient from Independence, Missouri. A panel discussion followed. Speaks also sponsored a two-month local public television film series titled “Lest They Be Forgotten.”

 

First Place

Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Centers • Indianapolis, Indiana

Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Centers of Indianapolis, Indiana, collaborated with Family Service Advisor Bert Pettygrove to create a welcome home reception for Indiana National Guardsmen returning home from duty in Bosnia. The Buchanan organization planned to create a memorial not only to honor fallen heroes but also to recognize the sacrifices these citizen-soldiers and their families make. This memorial is unusual as memorials of this stature tend to be reserved for the main military branches of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. After five years of planning and fundraising, the Hoosier Patriot Memorial was dedicated November 8, 2007.

Honorable Mentions

Keystine Group • Tampa, Florida

Keystone Group’s 217 funeral homes and cemeteries held events to encourage individuals to support our troops with “A Little Piece of Home.” Individuals stopped by one of any 217 locations and dropped off needed/recommended items for American soldiers in Iraq. Once collections boxes were full, Keystone arranged for shipment of over 15,000 boxes to make certain troops received their own “little pieces of home.” This community service program benefited U.S. troops and cast Keystone funeral homes in a positive light in the communities they serve.

Sunset Memorial Park • Albuquerque, New Mexico

Sunset Memorial Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico, created a centennial urn garden—the first of its kind in New Mexico—to celebrate 100 years of community service. The garden took over two years to plan and showcases a Southwestern theme environmentally designed for more than 1,500 urn placements in a variety of settings.

 

First Place

City of Surrey Cemetery • Surrey, British Columbia

The City of Surrey Cemetery partnered with the community to implement an “Operation Remembrance” program with the purpose of acknowledging, naming and honoring the veterans who rest in unmarked graves. Markers were placed on more than 30 unmarked graves, and the year-long effort ended with a dedication ceremony.

Honorable Mention

Suhor Industries/SI Memorial • Overland Park, Kansas
InQuest Marketing • Leawood, Kansas
(In conjunction with Hixon Funeral Homes and Johnson Funeral Home, Lake Charles, Louisiana)

SI Memorial and two local funeral homes joined forces to provide a dedication ceremony commemorating the year-long restoration of the city’s cemeteries that were damaged by Hurricane Rita. The ceremony included speakers, a choir and a shrimp boil. SI Memorial and the funeral homes donated a time capsule and a stone memorial for the occasion.

 

First Place

Montelena Complejo Funerario • Antiguo Cuscatlán, La Libertad, El Salvador, Central America

Montelena Complejo Funerario held an outdoor mass following the death of Pope John Paul II with over 2,000 people in attendance. The service included giant screens with a photographic presentation in the Pope’s memory. The company offered free copies of the presentation to anyone who requested it. Balloons, paper flags and bookmarks were given away at the event.

Honorable Mentions

White Haven Memorial Park • Pittsford, New York

White Haven Memorial Park provides unique quarterly remembrance services for the recently bereaved. Years ago, the cemetery started offering a holiday memorial service with music and poetry. It was so popular that it now offers these services on a quarterly basis, with approximately 250 people attending each event.

Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery • Kelowna, British Columbia

As part of Kelowna’s centennial celebrations, the cemetery implemented a community-based program, “Marking our Past – 100 Markers for 100 Years,” to install markers on 100 of the 700 unmarked graves in its pioneer section.

 

Special Events Over $1,000

First Place

Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery • Kelowna, British Columbia

Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery partnered with the local chapter of The Compassionate Friends to design and build a memorial for those whose children have predeceased their parents. The Compassionate Friends is an international support organization open to all bereaved parents and family members. The project includes a plaza with memorial walls, a dedication monument, a life-sized bronze statue and landscaping. Families were offered the opportunity to put a child’s name on the memorial walls. Interest was so great that The Compassionate Friends had to cut off the names at 160. More than 500 family and friends attended the dedication.

Honorable Mentions

Nelsen Funeral Homes • Richmond, Virginia
MKJ Marketing • Largo, Florida

A free flag exchange was organized for Veterans Day by Nelsen and MKJ Marketing. People were encouraged to bring in old American flags for dignified disposal, and they received a new flag in exchange. A ceremony honoring local veterans also was held.

Chippiannock Cemetery • Rock Island, Illinois

In conjunction with the celebration of the Grand Excursion of 1854, Chippiannock Cemetery held a Grand Epitaphs historical event. Costumed re-enactors performed historical vignettes revolving around 10 individuals buried at Chippiannock who were planners or had a part in bringing rail service to the Mississippi in 1854. The event included live period music and ‘epitaffy,’ a salt-water candy packaged in a bag, each featuring one of a series of original epitaphs gathered from cemetery memorials.


Special Events Under $1,000

First Place

Keystone Group • Tampa, Florida

After the death of Ronald Reagan, the 100 Keystone affiliated funeral homes erected temporary memorial walls in honor of the former president. The public was invited to visit and sign condolence books, which were later forwarded to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. People also left candles, jellybeans, photos, drawings and memorabilia.

Honorable Mention

Wyuka Funeral Home and Cemetery • Lincoln, Nebraska

Wyuka Funeral Home partnered with a local church to stage a Living Nativity in their historic stables building during the Christmas holidays. Choral/drama productions were presented in the chapel, animals were available for petting, food and monetary donations were collected for the local food bank, and gifts were purchased and wrapped for the People’s City Mission.

 

Special Events Over $1,000

First Place

Buchanan Group Inc. • Indianapolis, Indiana

Buchanan Group Inc. held its “Play It Safe, Life Awaits” children’s bicycle helmet giveaway on April 15, 2003. Over 5,000 bicycle helmets were given away at 18 locations in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Tampa, Florida.

Honorable Mention

Cypress Lawn Memorial Park • Colma, California

Cypress Lawn Memorial Park held its Chung Yeung Festival of Remembrance, a Chinese festival for the dead, October 4-5, 2003. Buddhist monks performed special ceremonies in a large tent where the service was performed.


Special Events Under $1,000

First Place

The Tribute Co./Pinelawn Memorial Park • Milwaukee, Wisconsin

In spring 2003, Pinelawn Memorial Park held a “Grief Garden” theme remembrance service for all families who had a burial in the cemetery during the past year. Grief and bereavement support group speakers based the service on the symbolism of the grieving process recognized through nature.

Honorable Mention

Chandler Funeral Home and MKJ Marketing • Wilmington, Delaware

For several years, Chandler Funeral Home has hosted many community seminars dealing with estate planning, grief and cremation. Seeing a need to address the pain of pet owners following the loss of a family pet, Chandler held a Pet Loss Seminar in 2003.

Special Event Under $1,000

First Place

Evergreen-Washelli Memorial Park • Seattle, Washington

Evergreen-Washelli holds an annual memorial service for those who have donated their bodies to medical science.

Honorable Mentions

Anniston Memorial Gardens & Funeral Home • Anniston, Alabama

Anniston Memorial Gardens & Funeral Home used 2,000 luminary candles to line its cemetery roads and held a Christmas memorial.

White Haven Memorial Park • Pittsford, New York

White Haven Memorial Park held a dedication for a monument to military, law enforcement and fire and rescue personnel.

Additional Entries

Anniston Memorial Gardens & Funeral Home • Anniston, Alabama

Anniston Memorial Gardens & Funeral Home invited all property owners to a Memorial Day cookout.

Lakeland Funeral Home & Memorial Gardens • Lakeland, Florida

Lakeland Funeral Home & Memorial Gardens provided a light picnic for Veterans Day visitors to the cemetery.

Miller-Jones Mortuary & Menifee Valley Memorial Park • Hemet and Sun City, California

Miller-Jones Mortuary & Menifee Valley Memorial Park commissioned a monument to honor 9/11 victims.


Special Event Over $1,000

First Place & Grand Prize Winner

Michigan Memorial Park • Flat Rock, Michigan

Michigan Memorial Park held a 9/11 remembrance service in conjunction with other community organizations.

Honorable Mention

Keystone Group Holdings

100 Keystone funeral and cemetery properties each held 9/11 ceremonies featuring a memorial wall.

Additional Entries

Capillas Senoriales Funeral Home • Mixco, Guatemala

Cappilas Seniorales funeral home stages a passion play Easter week.

Miller-Jones Mortuary & Menifee Valley Memorial Park • Hemet and Sun City, California

Miller-Jones Mortuary & Menifee Valley Memorial Park holds an annual Veteran of the Year program.

 

Special Events Over $1,000

First Place and Grand Prize Winner

Los Parques Cemetery (Cementerio Los Parques) • Guatemala

Los Parques cemetery celebrates the Day of the Dead with a tradition based on local Indian (Mayan) myths. Families create giant kites and fly them in the cemetery to block evil souls from disturbing the good souls.


Special Events Under $1,000

First Place

Toland-Herzig Funeral Homes • Dover, Ohio

Toland-Herzig Funeral Home’s Gift From the Heart Program was a Valentine’s Day blood drive for people to donate blood in memory of a loved one.

Honorable Mentions

Bluff City Cemetery • Elgin, Illinois

Bluff City Cemetery co-sponsors a memorial walk for families who have experienced miscarriage or still birth and were unable to bury their infant or buried their baby out-of-state.

White Haven Memorial Park • Pittsford, New York

White Haven Memorial Park’s Valentine’s Service is a non-religious, casual support service for those who have lost loved ones during the previous year and the community at large.

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