Cemetery where Whitney was buried shut down

NEED TO KNOW
  • Police: 'Word got out that cemetery was open to public'
  • Grave site inundated with visitors as fans mourn singer
Cemetery where Whitney was buried shut down

The New Jersey cemetery where Whitney Houston was buried has been closed to the public after throngs of fans attempted to congregate around the grave site, according to news reports.

Houston was laid to rest Sunday near the grave of her father, John Russell Houston, at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield. Even in death, the iconic singer continued to draw crowds as mourners wove around graves and head stones to approach the singer’s flower-laden resting place, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

Phone calls by HLN to Fairview weren’t immediately returned Tuesday.

Houston was memorialized Saturday in a star-studded funeral at her childhood church. The nearly four-hour event was invitation-only but live-streamed on the Internet and broadcast on television for millions to see. Around New Jersey, even street gangs called a truce for the day.

Read more: Bobby Brown abruptly walks out of Whitney's funeral

A day after the ceremony, the scene at Fairview was eerily reminiscent of a concert: news helicopters hovered above, more than 100 vehicles clogged dirt-padded lanes, and the traffic stretched into nearby streets.

Police and cemetery personnel waved through a stream of small groups of visitors to view the grave site, its ground concealed with a mound of freshly cut flowers. Two officers stood guard in case anything was vandalized or taken. But by the afternoon, the crowd swelled, causing gridlock -- and consternation for law enforcement.

"Someway, somehow, word got out that the cemetery was open to the public," Westfield Police Capt. Cliff Auchter said, according to the Star-Ledger. "And in the early afternoon, there was a tremendous increase in visitors that created tremendous traffic problems."

Celebrity grave sites -- including those of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Marilyn Monroe -- draw thousands of visitors, both voyeuristic and mournful, each year.

“Fans feel a link, a closeness” when they visit their idols’ grave sites,” Bob Fells, executive director of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association, told USA Today.

“Once you put up a headstone, you’re basically in the public domain,” said Noelle Berman, private estates director at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Read more: Whitney's 'Bodyguard' garb up for auction

Ted Simpson, a nearby resident, posted a sign across the street from the cemetery saying, "Please let Whitney rest in peace. If you want to show your love, buy her music."

"I don’t know how long this is going to go on for. People will always be trying to pull a fast one to get in. We have to be attuned," he was quoted as saying.

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