They're mementos to honor loved ones lost, but soon flowers, flags, and figurines decorating Bartow's two city-run cemeteries will find their new home in the trash.
Starting this spring, the city will begin enforcing sweeping changes to Oak Hill and Wildwood cemeteries. The new rules will highly restrict almost all decorations donning gravesites.
The City of Bartow's Cemetery Committee says the big issue boils down to dollars.
"The mowers just can't mow around it. So you have to do a lot of hand labor and weed trimming to get around the gravesites and it's gotten to be a real maintenance problem," City Commissioner Pat Huff said Tuesday.
Commissioners knew the changes wouldn't sit well with everyone. They're already getting complaints.
"One lady said, 'My mother always had a light in her bedroom and she needs a nightlight out here by her gravesite. So that's why I put the solar light out here.' Well, we just can't allow that," Huff said.
There are some exceptions. Flowers can hang on headstones and some holiday flags and decorations will be allowed for a window of time. While the rules may be viewed as rigid, the city says it's best for the big picture.
"It's going to be a much prettier cemetery once we get all this into place," Huff said.
The changes are set to go into effect around March of next year. The city will place signs in Wildwood and Oak Hill cemeteries to alert families of the changes.
They'll have about 90 days to meet the restrictions before crews come in and clean out sites themselves.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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