Lakewood Cemetery prepares for 5,000 visitors for Memorial Day

Sprawled across 11 miles of land, in the heart of Minneapolis, is Lakewood Cemetery.

“It should not be only for somber events, it’s a beautiful place,” said Lakewood Cemetery event planner Julie Gillis.

On Monday, the Lakewood Cemetery 22nd annual Memorial Day Celebration is expected to attract approximately 5,000 people.

The observance is slated to feature a fusion of tradition, tours, and historical exhibits on the making of Minneapolis in honor of its 150th birthday.

The holiday commemoration begins at the cemetery’s soldier’s memorial.

“We have the Grand Army of the Republic, which is all Civil War veterans and we have the WWI Spanish American War memorial where we hold our Memorial Day ceremony, so you’ll see all those graves decorated with flags,” said President of the Lakewood Cemetery Association, Ron Gjerde.

Following the morning ceremony, visitors are welcomed inside the Lakewood Memorial Chapel, considered one of the most perfect examples of Byzantine architecture in the country.

“We’ll have some live music here, we’ll have tours, we’ll have a trolley car out front that will guide people around the grounds to learn more about the history and the art and the landscape of Lakewood,” said Gjerde.

On the grounds, tour guides also plan to invite visitors inside the Garden Mausoleum where they'll find a tribute to Minneapolis and those who brought the city to life.

“Men and women alike who were foundational in the development of the industry, the artistic community, healthcare and wellness and charitable organizations in the earliest years of the city,” said tour guide Katie Thornton.

Back outside, guides will also invite people to enjoy the reflection pool as they take them on an hour-long walking tour of the gravesites that belong to city trailblazers, like Charles Loring.

“He’s the father of the parks. Charles Loring was the first president of the Minneapolis Park Board, he spent 35 years on the park board and he really developed the tree line and park centered city that we have today,” said Thornton.

The celebration will include children’s activities that also highlight city history.

“We’re going to have folks from the living history society come out and they’ll be wearing period dress from the 1860s and they’re going to show kids what kinds of arts and crafts they did in the 1860s when the city of Minneapolis was founded so I think that will be fun,” said Gillis.

The unique, free and uplifting experience honors Minneapolis visionaries and the true purpose of Memorial Day.

“It’s not just a day about picnicking, there’s more to it than that and it’s about remembrance,” Gjerde affirmed.

Lakewood Cemetery’s historic street car rides to and from Lake Harriet start at 9 a.m.

The Memorial Day ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m.

A variety of holiday activities and events run from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

A complete list of activities and event information is available on