Lady to Brooklyn: “Stop Literally Dancing on Graves!”

Enjoying Green-Woods Memorial Day Concert

Green-Wood Cemetery is not only a burial ground—it’s a local cultural institution, full of history. As such, officials there make an effort to reach out to the community with special events, from an annual Memorial Day concert to theatrical productions to literary events, tours and more. For a Louisiana native who recently moved near the cemetery, this is horrific. “Where I come from, I was taught that you don’t walk or even step on a grave,” Jennifer Sheremetta wrote on a petition, as reported in The Home Reporter, “but these people are throwing parties and concerts on them!”

The director of development and marketing at the cemetery told the paper that’s simply not true—that events aren’t held directly on gravesites. “I cannot tell you how much effort we put into those interred here, the history and the landmark,” Lisa Alpert told the paper. “That’s why we are here. It’s core to our existence. We would never be partying and dancing on graves.”

Alpert tried to explain this to Sheremetta, but Sheremetta wasn’t having it. “After she told me that she felt it was all right, I didn’t feel like I would get anywhere with her. What good would it do to go back and forth? I felt like it wasn’t necessary and that it wouldn’t do any good.”

Dear Ms. Sheremetta,

You appear to be, at best, factually incorrect. Perhaps you could have gathered as much from a good conversation with your neighbor. Now that you’re in Brooklyn, surrounded by lots of people everywhere, you should get used to talking to them, even when you think you disagree with them. That’s how we thrive as a city.

Everybody who lives in Brooklyn

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart

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  1. Being a photography/history buff I often go to Greenwood to take pictures and I have gone to the events at Greenwood that Ms. Sheremetta is saying are disrespectful to the dead. I can tell you that myself and other Greenwood dwellers that I have seen at these events and roaming the cemetery taking pictures much like myself are nothing but respectful towards the grounds. I’ve never seen one person dance or step on a grave while roaming or while at any of these events.

    Ms. Sheremetta is a total ignoramous and if she’s gonna live in New York as you said she really needs to respect the opinions of others even if it is different than her own.


  2. What happens down South, stays down South!
    Nothing but respect is shown by the folks at GW, and the whole surrounding community, for that matter. Ridiculous! Get ye to a cemetery everyone.

  3. I have full respect for the cemetery and it’s not-for-profit Historic Fund, which is helping the cemetery transition from a working entity to a cultural destination…which it already is. While I can listen Ms. Sheremetta’s pov, I do not agree. The events at Green-Wood celebrate those who call the grounds their final resting place and the living who are showing them honor and compassion by visiting. This is not unusual with historic cemetery’s, look to Boston or Gettysburg for examples that Green-Wood may emulate or even surpass with their tours, events and site specific goings-on. While I am biased, living across the street from Green-Wood, I am also passionate about the cemetery striving to be a place where the living honor the dead by visiting the grounds and embracing the history and beauty of the cemetery. Ms. Sheremetta should take a tour or attend an event, and I believe she’ll change her tune. However, they are private grounds, and Green-Wood graciously allows all of us the ability to take in their green space and culture, adding to the diverse borough of Brooklyn. I’d hope folks in the South and North understand that distinction.

  4. As the Founder and Conductor of the ISO Symphonic Band who leads the Memorial Day Concert at Green-Wood I must disagree with the POV of our dear friend from the south. First the Memorial Day Concert was established to help preserve the graves at Green-Wood not disrespect them. Second perhaps Ms. Sheremetta does not understand the rich history of the rural cemetery movement. Many of the masoleums at the cemetery are home to people who actually would picnic on their own graves before they departed. The notion that people could not attend a concert or event in a cemetery is rather an unenlightened point of view that is puritanical at best.

    As an example, our concert pays tribute with respect and adulation to Leonard Bernstein, Fred Ebb, Paul Jabara, Louis Gottschalk , and others who have made significant contributions to our society. What else should we do on memorial day? attend barbecues and not honor the fallen?

    Just my two cents!