Grave dilemma: Phoenix cemetery used as party venue

Grave dilemma: Phoenix cemetery used as party venue

POSTED: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 3:00am

UPDATED: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 3:04am

There are certain places you might expect to see people cut loose and have a good time: A bar, ball game, even a park.

But there is a shocking new venue where partiers are gathering with complete spreads of food, beer and a little friskiness: Greenwood Cemetery at 2300 W. Van Buren in Phoenix.

"It was 10:30 or 11 in the morning and I was there to visit some friends," a man who asked not to be identified told CBS 5 news.

He said he thought he was seeing a wake or a funeral or something, "until I saw the footballs, volleyballs, and kids running."

The activity is better-suited for a park or a backyard barbecue, but this is a cemetery where, the man said, he comes to pay respect to friends and family.

And what he saw bothered him - a lot.

"It didn't only feel disrespectful, it looked disrespectful," the mourner said.

The man captured a lot of the action on video.

"This is sad. Here's a guy out here trying to pay his respect," the mourner said as he showed CBS 5 News the video.

When he came back the following week this is what he saw: "As you can see, they're making out, drinking beer," he said while watching the video.

More people soon arrived toting a case of beer.

There's more kissing, some dancing and music blaring from the car radios.

The mourner's camera caught one person pouring beer over a grave.

"To me, it's disgraceful. I just can't see how they can do it," he said.

In Arizona, there is no state agency that regulates this type of behavior, so the man did the only thing he could do - he complained to the cemetery management.

"There were no signs there at the time," the man said. "Since then, they have put up signs."

The parties appear to have stopped with the emergence of the signs.

So the obvious question: What were these gatherings even for?

CBS 5 News investigated and made several calls and numerous followups to the cemetery. There was still no obvious explanation as to why the gatherings were taking place. The cemetery said it has implemented the signs as a result of complaints.

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