New cemetery policy removes flowers, flags after 7 days on holidays

SPALDING COUNTY, Ga. — Many people are expressing anger and frustration over a metro Atlanta city’s new policy on cemetery decorations.

The city of Griffin now requires non-permanently mounted flowers, balloons, flags, stuffed animals on graves to be removed after seven days on certain holidays.

But some residents said the policy changed with very little communication with the public.

"My flowers were always attached to the headstone and they basically ripped them right off my headstone," Sharon Wright told Channel 2's Wendy Halloran.

Wright has been a vocal critic of the changes. She told Halloran the city didn’t do a good job of telling citizens and when it implemented the changes, they made epic mistakes.


City attorney, Jessica O'Connor, said the changes were in response to accusations from some who blamed cemetery workers for stealing flowers and other gifts they left for their loved ones after they blew away on windy and rainy days. The city also said it uses inmates to maintain the grounds with lawn care equipment and that it takes longer.

So they began to tackle the problem by changing the rules requiring people to weigh down flowers or mount them to monuments. Flowers and other things that aren’t weighted down are tossed in seven days.

Comments on the city’s Facebook page seem to authenticate Wright claims that the policy was changed with little fanfare and little, if any, communication with the public.

"To be honest, they really don’t care," she said.

O'Connor said otherwise and emailed this statement in response:

"One of the challenges we face in providing care is returning flowers to the proper lots when misplaced due to weather and other natural causes. Additionally, it was becoming increasingly time consuming to landscape around each lot without disturbing loose items placed at the grave."

But Wright and others Halloran talked to have little sympathy.

“Change your policy, it’s wrong,” she said.

There’s a regular commission meeting Tuesday night and Halloran was told that those who oppose the new policy may try to get a word in during the public comment period.