Breaking News
More () »

Local cemetery the 'first of its kind' in the Midlands with a sports section

It's called the Palmetto Lakeside Cremation Estates Garden, but it contains much more than sports pedestals.

Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Die hard sports fans are known to collect their team's paraphernalia. Jerseys, hats, shirts, you name it, they probably collect it.

But what about headstones?

In the cremation section of Greenlawn Memorial Park in Columbia, a new spot is reserved for the biggest teams in the state.

It's called the Palmetto Lakeside Cremation Estates Garden. The new addition is only one month old.

"You won't find any cremation garden like this in the Midlands. This is the first of its kind," said Greg Cordak, Family Service Director for the Columbia area for Greenlawn and Woodridge Cemeteries.

The garden strays from your traditional columbarium. It has one-person and two-person cremation posts and pedestals you can customize with toppers.

Then, right in the middle, directly across from each other, are two more hand-carved pedestals catered to sports fans.

"We have the Gamecocks and we also have the Tiger paw, so we've taken care of both sides of the family," said Cordak. "We're hoping they're resting in peace and they'll be very well-behaved here, so we put them across each other just to create a little sense of fun."

Cordak says the sports theme is in high demand.

"We have so many fans, when people who come into our funeral home, lots of times they'll ask for Gamecock or Clemson paraphernalia related to their funerals," he said.

Experts say cremations are on the rise nationwide.

The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) predicts cremations in the U.S. will rise by nearly 30% over the next 18 years. They've already outpaced the rate of burials for three years in a row.

By 2035, the NFDA predicts the cremation rate will reach nearly 80%, about 2.8 million per year.

"It's more acceptable as far as religious beliefs now," Cordak explained. "A lot of people think that sometimes there's too much land being taken up by burial space, and cremation can be less expensive than a traditional ground burial."

Past the sports area in the garden is a pavilion for families, then private areas for benches and pedestals you can customize with engraving.

At the end of the garden sits a lake.

"What our main focus is is making people aware of the options, because frankly most people really don't know that there's another option besides taking their loved one home and placing them on a mantle or scattering them," said Cordak.

For more information on Greenlawn Memorial Park, click here. A grand opening is scheduled for Saturday, April 27 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at their other property, Woodridge Pine Haven Estates. It's located at 138 Corley Mill Road in Lexington.

Before You Leave, Check This Out