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Milwaukee cemetery holding "Cemetery Cinema" movie night series

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Most think of a cemetery as a place for grieving or for quiet reflection on the lives of loved ones, but a Milwaukee cemetery has a vision for itself that includes free movies for families and classic car shows.

In just a few days, dozens of people will be gathering at Pinelawn Memorial Park to watch a classic movie on the big screen, but the difference between this and similar events of its kind is that it's happening with tombstones nearby. 

At Pinelawn Memorial Park on Capitol Drive, most visitors come during times of mourning, but office manager Erica Wilkie says they wanted to attract visitors at other times too. 

"It was an experience they had seen done at other cemeteries and other parks. It was just another thing that we wanted to invite our neighbors to be a part of," said Wilkie. 

Three years ago they started hosting movie nights. The first movie of the season the park is showing is 1962 classic "To Kill A Mockingbird."

The event is located on an open lawn, away from the headstones. Although they've gotten some negative responses, they say overall the reception has been good and they want people to visit the cemetery outside of times of mourning. 

"We'll get a phone call here and there or an email and normally, I'll field those calls. I have no problem talking to the families and explaining it a little bit more. I think the fear and the misunderstanding is that we're doing it in the cemetery itself around gravespaces and that we're somehow disrespecting the people that are laid to rest and that's absolutely not the case," said Wilkie. 

Guests like Eunice Grennier look forward to the event every year. 

"It's an amazing experience. It's like going to the drive-in and not having to pay," Grennier said. 

Pinelawn has two other movie nights planned for the summer. For more information, please click here. 


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