Cemetery's Halloween-themed movie night cancelled amid criticism

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Halloween movie night at the park is canceled due to a round of complaints made by families with loved ones at the Lafayette Memorial Park.

Heather Bosher, the owner of the park, posting the event on Facebook on October 7. In the post, it states the movie night was being held in honor of her late grandparents, who enjoyed going to the movie theater.

The free public event would consist of snacks, a kid-friendly film and would be held on October 26.

When veteran Sam Simpson and his family heard about the event, they were not happy it was being held on a cemetery.

"You want to do that, take it to Festival Park, do a memorial there," Simpson said.

Sam visits the cemetery on a weekly basis to pay his respects to his daughter, Camryn Simpson, who died at 59-days-old due to not fully developing her lung.

He and the rest of the Simpson family didn't like the thought of crowds of people sitting around, possibly mistreating gravestones or leaving trash.

Bosher tells ABC 11 they received overall positive feedback; however, when the Simpsons and others brought their concerns to the table, they decided to cancel.

Sam and his wife Monica believe the initial apology and cancellation on her Facebook page was disingenuous and more unapologetic to the public that would not be able to attend.

"We're voicing our opinion because it was never asked. She didn't give us the option to vote on it," Monica said.

In a statement, Bosher said, "Our only wish was to provide a family-friendly event in a way that was safe and free to the public "with the intention of bringing" joy and peace to those that are grieving.

The Simpsons say they are not opposed to memorial events but don't like the thought of places of rest being used for bounce houses or lawn chairs.

The family added they'd prefer the money funding the movie night goes to other needs like maintaining the site.

"Our families that are buried should not be used at the dispense of the people around the neighborhood," Melissa Simpson said.

Here's Bosher's full statement:

Fayetteville is a diverse community with people from all over the world. With those people come diverse traditions.

We have been approached several times with the suggestion of a movie night. Since there are several cemeteries nationwide that host such events with great popularity, we embraced the idea.

We have a wonderful green space with plenty of room to hold such an event without infringing on any burial spaces. We have utilized it in the past with no objections.

Even so, we were concerned about how others besides us would feel, so a public poll was created and posted on our Facebook page.

The response we received was overwhelmingly positive. Our online poll had over 200 responses, none of them negative.

When we were approached by a family with an extremely negative outlook, we were surprised.

However, when other families with concerns started to become obvious, we decided to cancel the event out of respect to all. This all happened within a time span of a few hours.

Our only wish was to provide a family-friendly event in a way that was safe and free to the public much like our other events that bring joy and peace to those that are grieving. No disrespect was intended, only an alternative way to share a positive evening with our loved ones that are no longer here.

We never want families to feel distressed over any event at our facility. We are deeply sorry for any and all misunderstandings and we will continue to proceed with respect to all our families views.
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