SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)- Memorial Day weekend is usually a busy weekend for cemeteries, especially larger ones such as Woodlawn, Hills of Rest or St. Michael Catholic cemeteries.
Woodlawn Cemetery is located on Cliff avenue in Sioux Falls. The cemetery will be open all weekend from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Memorial Day hours will be slightly longer from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
This year however, the Woodlawn Cemetery will look a little different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After talking to other cemeteries around the area, we have decided not to have staff on the grounds or the office open on Memorial Day,” Director of Woodlawn Cemetery Michelle Millette said. “Normally, we have staff going around and helping the visitors, but with what is going on, we had to make a change. Our staff will work early on all three days to empty garbage.”
Millette knows that the safety of the employees and the safety of the visitors are a priority.
“We don’t have that many employees and so if anyone got sick, it’d be difficult to run the business,” Millette said.
Another change is that there will be no flags set out by the graves of veterans. On a normal year, the American Legion and some volunteers set out American Flags by the graves of the 3,000 veterans.
“We’re putting up flags in the entrance and the American Legion will put flags up along the drive,” Millette says. “Visitors are allowed to bring their own flags, we just don’t have the volunteer help this year to set up flags.”
Woodlawn did make an announcement on their Facebook page and their website:
“Woodlawn Cemetery WILL open all weekend from 8am – 8pm and 7am – 9pm on Memorial Day. Due to COVID-19, the office will be closed and there will be no staff on the grounds. Please be sure to visit or call the office this week to get grave locations or go to Burial Search and/or Cemetery Map along the green bar at the top. Flags for Veterans will not be placed on graves this year due to social distancing policies and COVID-19 contamination. If you wish to bring your own flag and place by your loved one’s grave, you’re welcome to do so. God bless and have a safe Memorial Day.“
You can learn more about the cemetery and look at a map of the facility by visiting the Woodlawn Cemetery web page.
Hills of Rest Cemetery
The Hills of Rest Cemetery is located in eastern Sioux Falls, and it has also made some adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just like Woodlawn, Hills of Rest will not have their staff at the cemetery over Memorial Day weekend.
The Hills of Rest Cemetery posted two videos to their website explaining how they will handle the holiday weekend. You can see those here: Hills of Rest Videos
The cemetery will have signs with information for their guests.
There will be flags and water for flowers available for visitors to use for their loved ones.
The cemetery is also relaxing their rules on the placement of flowers which will give visitors the chance to have flowers on the graves until May 31. The cemetery will begin mowing again on June 1.
For more information, you can visit the Hills of Rest Cemetery web page.
St. Michael Catholic Cemetery
Like the other Sioux Falls Cemetery, St. Michael Catholic Cemetery will also see some changes over the holiday weekend.
“Tradition is we would have a Memorial Day Mass at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, however due to the pandemic, it is unable to be done here,” Director of the cemetery Jeff McCann said. “Instead, we will livestream a Memorial Day mass from St. Joseph Cathedral at the same time.”
McCann had planned to not have flags next to veterans’ burial sites, since it was hard to find volunteers to help during the pandemic, however they found a way to get out nearly 700 flags.
“Normally the flags are put out by volunteer groups, this year we had one staff member that put up all the flags by the veterans,” McCann said. “She finished planting flowers and then took on the task of setting out all of the flags.”
Just like the other cemeteries, the St. Michael Catholic Cemetery will not have staff available to help.
“Due to the simple fact that we are a small staff, there won’t be any staff members,” McCann said. “The public is welcome to find their loved ones and while practicing social distance.”
Learn more about the St. Michael Catholic Cemetery by visiting their web page.