SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri funeral director is sending his father out with a bang. His father's ashes, anyway.
Greenlawn Funeral Homes will hold its first Firework Memorial program on Saturday night, when fireworks packed with James Carver's cremated remains will be launched skyward as part of his family's goodbye.
Carver's family is the first to try Greenlawn's new program. His son is funeral director Jim Carver, who says his father, who died in 2008, loved watching fireworks and would appreciate the unusual send off. The family will follow the eight-minute fireworks display with a cookout and memorial celebration.
Some have said, "this is the coolest thing I've ever seen," Carver said, while others think it sounds weird. One other family has purchased a fireworks memorial for the one-year anniversary of a loved one's death.
Greenlawn's Fireworks Memorials range from a $300 "Sensational Celebration" to the "Ultimate Goodbye," which costs $8,000 to $10,000, The Springfield News-Leader reported (http://sgfnow.co/10nwiK6 ).
"We are always looking for something to help families memorialize their lives," Carver said. "To me, every family is different how they want to recognize their loved one or celebrate their life."
The funeral home is working with Aaron Mayfield, owner of AM Pyrotechnics, a fireworks manufacturing business north of Springfield. He said his company had already created fireworks memorials for some individual clients. The company packs the ashes into a large fireworks aerial shell, and it always treats the remains with respect, he said.
"And it explodes with a lot of beauty and covers a lot of the sky, the size of a football field. It spreads the cremated remains into the sky and the particles are taken into the wind," he said.
Missouri allows for the scattering of remains, and since Greenlawn is outside the Springfield city limits, the company can legally set off fireworks.
Carver thinks the firework displays will be popular in the summer, when families can hold the events and explode ashes over a lake.
"I think we are learning that traditions are going out the window," he said. "Families are saying they want something different."
Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com