As cemeteries across the nation close their gates due to the coronavirus pandemic, some urban graveyards remain open, even extending their hours, to accommodate a surge in visitors seeking exercise and nature during stay-at-home mandates.
“To be honest, I don’t think we would have ever taken the time to walk through that beautiful cemetery if our normal routines were not disrupted,” says Brittany Pitcher, who visited Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia recently with her husband and toddler son.
“Our numbers have really skyrocketed,” says Nancy Goldenberg, president and CEO of Laurel Hill Cemetery, as well as West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, Pa. She says 43 percent of the year’s visitors came just in the last two weeks of March.
“I think more and more people, maybe in the past month, have suddenly realized how much they really do need open space that they might not have known, prior to the coronavirus pandemic,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
And so far Goldenberg says social distancing hasn’t been a problem for visitors.
“It’s 187 acres, so you can have a lot of people and it’s still far apart,” she says. “Cemeteries are not like linear trails, where everybody is squeezed down into a 12-foot path. So that’s the beauty of a cemetery.”