The particularly long winter, and unending snowpack of this spring, put maintenance at Forest Home Cemetery in Rhinelander way behind this year. We caught up with Gunder Paulsen, Parks, Building and Grounds director for the city of Rhinelander, to find out about the rules for decorating graves in this cemetery and how the weather affected the annual spring clean-up.
Star Journal-How many graves are in this cemetery?
Gunder Paulsen-There are approximately 10,000 graves.
SJ-Did the weather make a big difference as far as maintaining Forest Home this spring?
GP-Yes, it did because we couldn’t get into it to work due to all the deep snow. Normally, we have all old decorations off the graves by May 1 and we work throughout April to do this. Because of all the snow this year, we were unable to get into the cemetery until this past Monday and Tuesday, April 29 and 30. May 1 is the date people can come and start redecorating graves of loved ones, so we made it just in time.
SJ-Are there rules where grave decorations can go?
GP-Yes, there are. All decorations should go alongside the headstone of a grave-not in front. The reason is because when we mow, we have to mow around a decoration in front. Then the grass grows longer around there and it can look shaggy as the summer progresses.
SJ-What type of decorations work the best at Forest Home?
GP-People use all kinds of things as decorations, but we do not allow glass containers, breakable figures or statues on graves. This is not only a matter of safety, but also a matter of discretion. I’ve seen people who come up and drink a beer on someone’s grave and then leave the bottle there. Some people find that very disrespectful.
SJ-Are some decorations better suited to decorate a grave over others?
GP-Definitely. There are grave decorations out there that are so flimsy particularly the styrofoam backed wreaths and crosses, that with the first wind, they either break or blow apart and create a mess. Also, if anything placed on a grave is injurious to people or machinery, or violates any rule, it will be removed without notice.
SJ-When do the decorations placed on graves over the summer have to be removed?
GP-They have to be off by Oct. 15. Winter decorations are allowed from Dec. 1 to April 1.
SJ-Is there a map or directory available where visitors can find out where people are buried in Forest Home Cemetery?
GP-Yes, there is a kiosk on the east end of the cemetery that has information and a map of the cemetery. Visitors can also get a copy of the rules and regulations concerning what can and cannot be placed on graves here too. More information can be obtained by Googling Forest Home cemetery.
SJ-Who can people call if they have further questions?
GP-They can call me with any questions at (715) 365-8625.