MOHAVE VALLEY — Desert Lawn Funeral Home, Crematory and Memorial Gardens is going forward with its annual Memorial Day service while other agencies and organizations are not.
While ceremonies in Bullhead City, Laughlin and Needles have been canceled because of social distancing and restrictions on crowd gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, Desert Lawn will conduct its program at 10 a.m. Monday. Desert Lawn is at 9250 S. Ranchero Lane in Mohave Valley.
“We will not forego this tradition,” said Janelle Summerlin, public relations specialist for the Mohave Valley funeral home and cemetery “We’ve been doing it for 30-plus years. We waited ... to decide if we should go ahead with it.”
The decision was yes, with modifications, for what will be the 35th annual Memorial Day program.
“It will be a little bit different, of course, because of the virus,” she said.
She said the speaker’s podium will be near the funeral home building, allowing any spectators to spread throughout the cemetery to hear the program. Previous services have been conducted under a canopy with attendees in close proximity to each other.
“We’ll still have light refreshments,” Summerlin added, noting that those items will be individually packaged.
Janie Reeder, a Desert Lawn employee, will be the speaker, reading a message on Memorial Day. The United Veterans Honor Guard will be in attendance. Pastor Gene Stouffer, of Mohave Valley United Methodist Church, will provide the opening and closing prayers.
The public is invited but, Summerlin said, encouraged to maintain social distancing. Changing the location of the service should allow for that, she said.
“There’s a lot of room so people can spread out as much as they want,” she said. She said the program will be broadcast live on the cemetery’s Facebook page on Monday for those unable to attend.
In preparation for the service, Desert Lawn is seeking volunteers to help place about 1,300 American flags. Volunteers are asked to meet at the flag pole at 9 a.m. Saturday. Volunteers are asked to bring a long screwdriver; it makes it easier to place the flags into the hard ground.
Volunteers also are sought by officials at Needles Riverview Cemetery, where decorations will be placed even though Monday’s Memorial Day program has been scrubbed.
Volunteers should arrive at 7 a.m. Friday and should provide their own personal face covering, hand tools, garbage bags and water. In addition to placing flags and crosses on gravesites, volunteers will give the cemetery a quick sprucing up, including trash removal and trimming of grass and shrubs. Volunteers also are sought for Monday afternoon’s removal of flags and crosses, which will start at 4 p.m.
In lieu of the actual ceremony, Needles resident Natalie Johnson, of Fat Cat DJ Nat, will be putting up a social media tribute that will be available on the city website, cityofneedles.com, and on the city’s Facebook page.
Volunteers also are being sought to help place American flags at Arizona Veterans Memorial Park in Bullhead City. Volunteers should arrive by 10 a.m. Veterans United won’t be holding its annual Memorial Day ceremony but still will be decorating the park.
“You just need to show up, and instructions and any tools will be provided,” said Dick Patzold, vice president of Veterans United Inc., the group that oversees the park on the eastern shore of the Colorado River. “You need not be a veteran to become part of our group. We are all unpaid volunteers dedicated to the remembrance of our veterans, past and present.”
The annual Memorial Day program at the Avenue of Flags in Laughlin, conducted jointly by Laughlin American Legion Post 60 and Laughlin VFW Post 243, will not be held this year.