Many upset after grave decorations thrown in trash

Many people are upset after finding grave decorations, they'd left for loved ones, in the trash at a South Austin cemetery.

This happened the day after Valentine's. We're told this isn't a first.

The cemetery director says rules are rules. They're in place to keep the area looking beautiful and to make it easier for maintenance. Either way, people we spoke with say they feel disrespected.

"She did have a new bouquet that I had bought her, which I noticed was gone," says Candida Acosta, loved one buried at cemetery. For Candida Acosta, Valentine's Day was followed by heartbreak.

"You're here because you don't want to forget about your loved ones. You want to celebrate every little holiday you can with them to make them feel here. It's just heartbreaking altogether to know this is going on," says Acosta.

On Sunday she left flowers, balloons and a heart display at her grandparent's grave-site at Assumption Cemetery. By Monday morning, most of it had been removed. As Acosta drove off, she noticed the dumpsters were overflowing. It was a sea of red.

"I had happened to see three women you know, digging into it. I asked them what they were looking for and they had told me, their decors had been thrown in the trash," says Acosta.

Acosta found hers there as well, which is why she wrote the cemetery director.

"He was apologetic. It should have never happened he said. He actually told the groundskeepers this morning that it was their mistake, lack of communication, that no ones Valentine's things were supposed to be thrown," says Acosta.

According to Assumption Cemetery, the flower policy of one set of flowers per grave shall be enforced at all times.

"I just don't understand, like taking out from a loved ones fixture," says Acosta.

The use of boxes, shells, toys, metal designs, ornaments, vases, glass, potted plants, etc. shall not be permitted on any plot and such articles shall be removed by the cemetery staff. People still find it hard to believe that things are ending up in the trash.

"I feel that they should keep it at the office for a week or so and maybe that family member will come by and ask, 'what happened to my teddy bear, you know, I brought my baby on Valentine's Day,'" says Ester Castilleja, loved ones buried at cemetery.

There are two large signs on the property and a copy of the rules and regulations are at the office.

"I checked to make sure everybody still had their flowers," says Castilleja.

Ester Castilleja tells us stricter rules in regards to decorations in the Mausoleum go into effect March 1st.

"That's really going to hurt us, you know, that we're not going to be able to do that anymore for her," says Castilleja.

When it comes to the City of Austin's five historic cemeteries, rules about grave decorations will soon be re-looked at. They are hiring a new cemetery manager, which will then find a balance between maintaining the area and respecting the way people express their grief.

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