'Not an amusement park': Mount Rose Cemetery trick-or-treat event angers families

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

A York County cemetery is refusing to cancel its trick-or-treat event after some angry area residents argued it would be disrespectful to the families with loved ones buried there.

Mount Rose Cemetery announced its first trick-or-treat drive-thru event Saturday in a Facebook post, inviting families and their children to drive through a luminary-lit path to different "no touch" candy stations set up through out the cemetery, according to the post

Since the announcement, the event garnered the attention of angry residents like Amanda Lesh, who said it isn't appropriate for the Spring Garden Township cemetery to host an event like this.

"It's not a place for entertainment, it's a place for grieving families to go and pay respects for their loved ones," the Newberry Township resident said. "They're taking something that is very hurtful and turning it into something fun."

Lesh, whose her son, Tobias, and grandparents, Betty and Paul Hays, are buried at Mount Rose Cemetery, said when she first heard about the event she was "disgusted" and called to have it canceled.

Mount Rose Cemetery is shown in Spring Garden Township, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

At this time, though, officials are still planning to host the event, scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, said Amy Cincibus, general manager of Mount Rose Cemetery, located at 1502 Mount Rose Ave. 

"Our team wanted to get together and do something positive for the York community," Cincibus said via email. "While many events have been canceled, we wanted to provide a safe and fun way to provide some normalcy to families with a 'touch free' trick-or-treat event."

More:Which municipalities are having trick-or-treat this year?

More:York City 'discourages' Trunk or Treat due to COVID-19

Though officials said the event would encourage families to stick to a luminary-lit path throughout the cemetery to different stations to get candy, Lesh said she worries about potential vandalism from kids or teenagers who could wander.

"I've never heard of a cemetery doing a drive-thru trick-or-treating before," Lesh said. "That's not what a cemetery is supposed to be used for. They're taking other people's grief and making it fun."

Mount Rose Cemetery is shown in Spring Garden Township, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Resident Jamie Wilkins also said the event diminishes the "sanctity of honor and memory" for her grandfather and WWII veteran, William Smith, who is buried at Mount Rose.

"The event tarnishes the sacredness of these grounds where loved ones are buried," Wilkins said via email. "This is not an amusement park."

Despite Wilkins and Lesh's disdain for the event, East Manchester Township resident Amy Anderson praised it as a "wonderfully creative idea."

"I have several relatives buried there, and I know they would love to hear kids laughing and screaming in delight during this event," Anderson said, who has a pair of great-grandparents, Edwin and Margaret Grim, and a great aunt and uncle, Stewart and Mildred Black, buried there.

Citing that a cemetery is eerie and spooky, Anderson said this event would be the perfect way to allow kids to participate in a Halloween event while being safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"This event will bring laughter and joy to those laid to rest there, as well as our children," Anderson said. "Isn’t our children’s happiness and safety most important?"

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.