Now is time to prepare for Memorial Day
By RENEE WEBB, Globe senior reporter
As winter conditions persist, it can be hard to think about making plans for Memorial Day.
Barb Queen, office manager for Calvary Cemetery in Sioux City, said for those who want to have grave markers in place for Memorial Day, the time to make arrangements is now.
“Getting them ordered is not a problem; it’s getting them set in the length of time that people want to have them for Memorial weekend,” said Queen, who added they must be paid for before the order is placed. “With all of the cold weather that we have had, we have to have a long spell of warmth to start thawing the ground. It’s frozen deep.”
The Calvary Cemetery Office in Sioux City does sell bronze foot markers.
Cost of foot markers for a single is from $1,500 and up and for a companion/double it is about $2,500 and up. Artwork on the markers impact prices. Bronze vases may also be purchased.
“As expensive as it is now, it’s going to be more expensive a year from now and five years from now because each monument company increases their rates around the first of the year,” she said. “We are subject to what the monument companies charge.”
While most parish cemeteries do not sell their own markers, the same holds true about purchasing them now for placement by Memorial Day.
Queen mentioned advance sales are popular and outpaces sales at the time of a beloved person’s death.
She explained the State of Iowa requires the markers be placed at the time of delivery – even if the person is still alive. It has the person’s name and birth date, and at the time of their passing, the date of death is added.
“They do get a benefit if they purchase with us in that we do not charge to install the markers if they purchase with us,” Queen said. “If they purchase outside, there will be a charge. Also, we are a non-profit organization – we do not charge tax so that can be a big savings.”
Presently, Calvary Cemetery does not sell granite stones. Right now they only sell bronze foot markers.
Queen noted only certain sections of the cemetery allow headstones for the burial plots – mainly due to the hills at Calvary.
As Memorial Day approaches, there are other things to keep in mind for families who wish to decorate graves of loved ones. For instance, Calvary Cemetery regulations allow for all flowers arrangements at graves one week before Memorial Day and one week after.
Queen offered a hint for fresh flowers: “Spray them with hairspray. The deer love fresh flowers, but they don’t like hairspray and that will preserve them.”
“If items have any special meaning at all, they should not put them out,” she added. “There are people who steal things and no matter how well something is anchored down, they can still get pulled apart and blown away.”
Queen also noted that in the event of vandalism or an act of nature, the cemetery is not responsible, but one’s homeowners insurance should cover such occurrences.
Calvary Cemetery in Sioux City offers Mass at 9 a.m. every Memorial Day. Queen said the cemetery’s caretaker, Walt Peterson, remains on hand to answer questions about burial locations.
“We are working on taking our database and downloading it into one of the older computers – to put it in one of the mausoleums for people to access,” she said.
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