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Westfield Residents Trying to Avoid Houston's Funeral

To accommodate the Sunday morning funeral procession of Whitney Houston, police are closing roads around Fairview Cemetery.

Amy Harrett says she is a Whitney Houston fan, but she won't line up on East Broad Street to watch the pop icon's funeral procession turn into Westfield's Fairview Cemetery.

"It's going to be a madhouse," said Harrett, who lives close to the cemetery. "There is going to be a ton of people here — the media, fans, everyone. I don't want to say it's an inconvenience, but I know I won't be able to get anything done if I stay here."

Harrett says that after policemen knocked on her door yesterday to tell her that her street would be closed to accommodate Houston's burial, she called her mother  to plan a visit. She's leaving tonight and will spend Sunday at her mother's house in Queens.

"I don't want to be trapped here because of her funeral," she said.

Mayor Andy Skibitsky confirmed the funeral is set for late Sunday morning, but he said he did not know the exact time. Houston's funeral, held this afternoon at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, drew her mother, Cissy, her daughter, Bobbi Christina, her cousin, Dionne Warwick. The star-studded crowd of 1,500 included Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Governor Chris Christie, Oprah Winfrey, Clive Davis and Jennifer Hudson. The ceremony featured eulogies from Kevin Costner, Tyler Perry, a song from Stevie Wonder 

Westfield Police told Patch that the funeral plans have not been confirmed, but they are making preparations for the event.

Westfield Police Lt. John Ricerca said if they receive confirmation from the family, the entire length of Gallows Hill Road would be closed to northbound traffic starting at 6 a.m. Sunday to be used as a media staging area.

"We are trying to accommodate the family's needs and the needs of residents as well," Ricerca said just before 1 p.m. Friday. "However, nothing has been confirmed by the family right now."

Harrett's neighbor's James McCreary, said he think it's a honor that Houston will be buried in the cemetery, but expects the same media circus as Harrett. 

He said he doesn't understand why the crowds are forming since the family has indicated it is a private ceremony.

"It's not like they are going to let fans into the burial," he said. "They should respect the family and respect the town and stay home. They can come pay their respects later."

Marie Kelichner McCormack February 19, 2012 at 03:23 PM
I'm sorry that anyone even announced WHICH cemetery she would be buried at. How long do you think it will be before someone finds her grave and does God knows what? This family will never find the peace that they deserve in mourning the loss of Whitney.
LB February 19, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Thanks, Jo Anne.
Monk February 19, 2012 at 04:21 PM
I just got back from my Sunday jog which traverses Broad Street. Total circus around the cemetary. Hundreds of gawkers, and media to egg them on. Scores of state and local police. All because people prefer to live vicariously than in the real world. A very sad commentary on society.
CC Farr February 19, 2012 at 04:49 PM
I am a Westfield resident, and I am avoiding going to that area today. I haven't been over there and assume it will be crazy with media and fans, and curious Westfield residents lining the streets. If I had a relative buried there, it would not bother me at all to visit on a different day, once the hoopla was over -- and within HOURS it will be. The only sad thing for the families who have loved ones there -- in the short term I think -- is that fans may trek there to try to locate Whitney's grave site. Hopefully it will remain a peaceful place for the families -- including Whitney's family -- to pay respect to loved ones who have passed on. I love walking through the cemetary in the spring when the trees are in bloom. Such a pretty place. Let's hope all who visit respect it and the people who have loved ones there.
Bill February 19, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Speaking of our me me me society. When I posted my comment last night about Friday, I left this out from the comment. I was standing at our family plot, trying to say the Lord's Prayer, and about 40 feet away there was a grave freshly covered over with dirt. A teenage girl in a pink hoodie ran over to the grave site and her sneaker sunk into the dirt up to her ankle as she looked at the stone. As she was pulling her sneaker out, Her mother called from the car, "Is that it?". She yelled back, "No, the name on the stone is wrong!" She left a deep foot print on a freshly covered over grave, probably from a funeral that took place that morning. Very sad what our society is becoming. This will all hopefully calm down soon though.

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