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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘Instead of going to a grave, I go to Disney World’: Disney parks popular spreading of ashes; Spokanites favor Mt. Spokane

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 30, 2018

From staff and wire reports

Everyone knows Disney theme parks as “the happiest place on Earth,” but for some Mouseketeers, it may also be the happiest place in the afterlife, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

Since Disney would like to keep its guests as shamelessly happy as the animatronic children in the “It’s a Small World” attraction, various messes – including cremated remains – have code words. For ashes? “Hepa cleanup,” named for the vacuum capable of sucking up ultra-fine particles. Custodians from both parks spoke with the Wall Street Journal, and they estimated the park becomes a final resting place about once a month. Though Silverwood Theme Park does not deal with this particular mess, Spokanites favor the legal option of Mount Spokane.

Sgt. Daron Wyatt, a spokesman for the Anaheim Police Department, told the Journal that spreading ashes without permission is a misdemeanor, but he could not recall an arrest. Despite its illegality, several people spoke to the Journal about their experience, and no one thought that park employees had spotted them in the act.

Kym Pessolano DeBarth told the Journal that she dumped a small amount of her mother’s ashes in the water underneath “It’s a Small World.”

“I didn’t want to clog the filter,” she said.

She plans to return in December to honor the 15th anniversary of her mother’s death.

“Instead of going to a grave,” she said, “I go to Disney World.”

Silverwood, the theme park in Athol, Idaho, does not have this issue, Director of Marketing Jordan Carter said.

“I haven’t heard of it happening,” Carter said. “Doesn’t mean it’s never happened.”

City of Spokane spokeswoman Marlene Feist said she hasn’t heard of any specific landmarks where Spokane citizens sprinkle remains, but wouldn’t be surprised if it occurred on Mount Spokane.

Feist’s hunch was correct. In 2016, the Spokesman reported on the scattering do’s and don’ts in the city, and Mount Spokane State Park manager and ranger Steve Christensen said he frequently received requests to scatter the ashes on Mount Spokane.

“There are a lot of people who are very passionate about Mount Spokane,” he said. “There are a lot of people who consider this their mountain.”

People are permitted to scatter ashes as long as they have received permission from the land owner or park manager, he said.

U.S. Forest Service land is a different story.

“In the most respectful way we can, we ask that people not scatter ashes or erect monuments,” said Franklin Pemberton, a spokesman for the Colville National Forest. “It’s our Forest Service manual direction.”

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