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Funeral Homes: New Party Site

7:35 AM, May 11, 2012   |    comments
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GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. -- Trying to find a place to hold that birthday party, baby shower or wedding reception? The usual places come to mind like people's houses, hotels, maybe a restaurant.  But these days another industry in getting involved in planning those celebrations.  They're experienced hosts and just dying for your business.

"We just have a good time," says Ann Walden who comes to the Terrace Room in Clay County almost every Wednesday for Bean Day.   Baked beans, rice, cornbread and desert are always on the menu.  It's a festive atmosphere despite being down the hall from caskets, a crematorium and right next to a cemetery.  "People say what? They saw what? You're having lunch at the cemetery," says Walden.

In a place normally reserved for solemn occasions, the newly built Russell Haven Funeral Home in Green Cove Springs also has its fun side.  "We've  done a bridal shower, a baby shower, a surprise birthday party," says Anna Olmstead of Russell Haven of Rest Funeral Home.

It's a funeral home that floats balloons other than black.  Brides unwrap gifts here and people cut birthday cake.  Olmstead says her family built the funeral home for the community.  The lobby almost looks like a country club. The setting bright and inviting.  "We're trying to take away some of the stigmas related to funeral homes. It's not a scary place to be it should be a comfortable place."

About 8% of funeral homes in the country host non-funeral related events according to the National Funeral Directors Association.  Other funeral homes on the First Coast , like well established Hardage-Giddens in Jacksonville, says funeral homes need to listen to their clients, especially baby boomers.  "They are going to want things done differently. And so the best thing we can do is to offer all sorts of options to our families," says Robin Giddens Sheppard,

Funeral homes are used to planning a major life event. They're used to doing it in two days. But it'll be up to the the public to ultimately decide if those event include more than just funerals.

If you're interested, prices start between $250 and $295  to rent a room for a few hours at either Russell Haven of Rest or any of the Hardage-Giddens locations. 



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