Kentucky families upset over eclipse viewing party at cemetery

(Photo: WKRN)

FRANKLIN, Ky. (WKRN) – As thousands descended on the region for this week’s solar eclipse, many places along the path took advantage of the extra traffic.

One of those places, Restlawn Memorial Gardens on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line, charged $10 to park and watch the eclipse on the back part of their property.

“That’s where we go to as family members to mourn, to talk to our family members and tell them what is going on and make sure they have flowers,” said Cynthia Summers.

(Photo: WKRN)

Pictures posted on Facebook of strangers hanging out near the buried bodies of family and friends did not set well with Summers and plenty of others.

“How many people walked over her grave or even camped out beside her grave? I just feel like that is so disrespectful,” she told News 2.

Restlawn Memorial Gardens’ owner told News 2 about 60 people paid the fee to watch from the undisturbed land where no one was buried.

“It was so quiet, it was peaceful, it was very reverent. People came and they left,” said Eileen Santangelo.

The owner said she wanted to provide a peaceful and spiritual viewing.

Santangelo thinks she was helping those resting there because the money collected is going to pay for the upkeep of the gardens.

“It goes in and keeps the cemetery mowed and well cared for,” she explained to News 2.

(Photo: WKRN)

At first, Santangelo posted pictures on the company’s Facebook page and asked for viewer’s reactions if they were there. She has since taken the post down after families expressed anger over the viewing party.

She said by looking at some of the pictures, she can see why people may have been upset.

“At one point, they were right up closer to the open area of the field, they were perhaps a little bit close,” said Santangelo.

She hopes she can explain herself to all of those angry.

“If I have offended anybody, it surely was not our intention,” she concluded.