Chris, couple of thoughts:
On fear of cemeteries,
Think of cemeteries as lives that were lived, not the end of life. That plus my father cured me of cemetery fear at a young age with one simple saying. "It's not the dead ones that you have to worry about".
All cemeteries have rules and regulations that you should abide by but know that common sense should take precedent. On kids playing or walking pets...know that these cemeteries are for living and any activity that is not disrespectful should be ok.
On proprietary attitude:
Please know that if the cemetery doesn't have resources to keep it maintained, you may try and contact "Save Our Cemeteries" which is a non-profit organization that deals with the restoration and preservation of our Louisiana cemeteries.
Over 300 people a day visit our N.O. cemeteries this is a great reflection on how we treat our dead which is something New Orleanians should be proud of.
Metairie Cemetery is one of the most underestated and facinating places in our city. Named by Forbes.com as one of the "10 Most Interesting Cemeteries in the World", you would be hard-pressed to find more New Orleans History then in Metairie Cemetery's 127 acres.
One interesting note not mentioned...Metairie Cemetery was temporary home of Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy.
In 1889, President Davis was lied out at the current site of Gallier Hall over a 4 day period where over 140,000 persons passed his casket. He was buried in 1889 in the tumulus of the Army of Northern Virginia, one of the four Civil War Monuments in Metairie Cemetery. He was moved to his hometown of Richmond, VA. 2 years and 9 months later. His signature marks the location in the tumulus where he was buried
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