Employees with Lafayette Memorial Park said they'd been "approached several times with the suggestion of a movie night" at the cemetery, located in Fayetteville, which often happens during the autumn season.
"Since there are several cemeteries nationwide that host such events with great popularity, we embraced the idea," the cemetery's owner, Heather Bosher, wrote on Facebook Thursday. Officials said they planned to hold the event on Oct. 26 in a green space "with plenty of room to hold such an event without infringing on any burial spaces."
The cemetery initially received an "overwhelmingly positive" response from an online poll. Hours later, however, they were approached by a family "with an extremely negative outlook," which they said was a surprise to them.
"When other families with concerns started to become obvious, we decided to cancel the event out of respect to all," officials wrote. "This all happened within a time span of a few hours."
Local resident Sam Simpson told WTVD when he heard about the idea of a movie night at the cemetery — where he says his daughter, who died at 59 days old, is buried — he wasn't pleased.
"You want to do that, take it to Festival Park, do a memorial there," Simpson said. His wife, Monica, said they went to the park's owner to voice "our opinion because it was never asked. She didn't give us the option to vote on it."
Lafayette Memorial Park said their intention was to "provide a family friendly event in a way that was safe and free to the public, much like our other events that bring joy and peace to those that are grieving."
"No disrespect was intended, only an alternative way to share a positive evening with our loved ones that are no longer here. We never want families to feel distressed over any event at our facility. We are deeply sorry for any and all misunderstandings and we will continue to proceed with respect to all our families’ views."
Another cemetery, Rural Cemetery & Crematory in Worcester, Mass., canceled a similar movie series idea in July after people voiced their disagreement with the idea.
But in some cemeteries across the U.S., movie nights or themed-events are common. In California, the Hollywood Forever cemetery is described as "not only a world famous landmark cemetery in the heart of Hollywood, we are also an important cultural event center in Los Angeles." They host movie screenings, concerts, lectures and more, according to its website.