Vintage car show planned for cemetery canceled after backlash

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A classic car show planned for a cemetery in Roseville has been canceled, after objectors made it clear the only car they want to see on burial grounds is a Hearse.

The controversy started earlier this week, when Cottage Grove woman Nicole Roatch came across a flier for the "Roselawn Cemetery Car Show" scheduled for this Saturday.

The flier, which she posted on social media and sent to outlets including BringMeTheNews, encourages people to not only enjoy beautiful cars but also "stroll through the grounds to discover unique stones and inscriptions."

This was too much for Roatch, who said her late, 24-year-old brother-in-law is buried in the cemetery and the car show idea was a step too far.

"They will stand with their backs to the dead and play music, sell food, and judge the merit of a hunk of metal," she said in a Facebook post, adding: "They happily took my newly widowed sister's money, and buried a 24 year old father, husband, son, friend. He is now just an 'interesting stone' to them.

"This is disgusting."

On Wednesday, the Roselawn Cemetery board of directors voted to cancel the car show following negative feedback on social media, it confirmed in a statement, but said they are still interested in attracting people to the grounds in a more positive way.

"We saw Saturday’s event as one small step in our efforts to make cemeteries less intimidating and forbidding for some members of our community," they said.

"We want people to see Roselawn as we do, as a place of joyful remembrance and celebration, where families and friends can be closer to loved ones and, in turn, closer to one another."

Cemetery apologizes

The board had planned to hold the show some distance away from the burial plots, on a 7-acre plot that separates the nonprofit's graves from Larpenteur Avenue.

The Pioneer Press reports that the idea for the car show came after a memorial service for Jerry Johnson, founder of the Minnesota Street Rod Association, with the intention that the show would raise money for the association's college scholarship fund.

Roatch said she is not against car shows, in fact quite the opposite, saying she has regularly attended them in the past and describes her family as car enthusiasts.

By Monday morning, KARE 11 reports the cemetery had received 20 complaints, and the decision to cancel was welcomed by commenters on its Facebook page, some of whom thank Roselawn for making the "right decision."

"Please know that it was never our intention to do anything that would be disrespectful or disruptive to any visitor or to the memory of any loved one," the cemetery said. "To anyone whom we inadvertently offended, we offer our sincere apologies."

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