CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Over this long weekend, traffic will be bumper-to-bumper at times through Cedar Memorial Cemetery.
“We have in the vicinity of 3,000 people who will come through here for the three days,” said courier Rick Smith, who was greeting people as they drove through the front gate Saturday morning.
Preparing for Memorial Day weekend is a process that usually starts in mid-March, but had a setback this year due to a long and harsh winter.
“Because of the cold extended period and the frost in the ground, it actually was delayed about two weeks,” said grounds manager Greg Blood, who has been here 37 years.
He and a crew of 14 people work across 83 acres, making sure flagpoles are straight and grass is just the right length.
“With all the fertilizing that we do, some of the sections need mowing in about 3 to 4 days,” Blood said.
There’s also water fountains, flowers, and waterfowl to keep track of.
“There’s such a variety of tasks out here, and nothing’s ever the same every day, and of course, it’s challenging.”
But as Blood points out, that there’s more going on behind the scenes here than just mowing and maintenance.
“It’s a total team effort, and it’s not just in the grounds, it’s everybody that works for this company,” Blood explained.
It all starts at the front gate, where Smith is ready with a friendly “hello.”
“For a lot of people, it’s a yearly tradition, and for a lot of people, this will be the beginning of years of traditions,” Smith told us.
Traditions of visits on Flag Day, the Fourth of July, Veterans Day, and every other day in between.
“We’re always trying to improve everything for the families,” Blood told us, “and just make their experience here the best it can be.”