Volunteers tackle Harrisville cemetery; Next cleanup to be held April 22

Carlo and Betty Mencucci show off their gravestone restoration work.

BURRILLVILLE –  The Burrillville Historical & Preservation Society held a clean-up of the Riverside Cemetery in Harrisiville on Saturday, April 15, with volunteers gathering at the Callahan School Street grounds at 8 a.m. About 25 volunteers arrived with rakes, leaf-blowers and brush clippers and unlike past years – when the spring cleanup extended into the afternoon – it only took 2.5 hours to clean all the lots. 

Volunteers included members of the Burrillville Historical Society Cemetery group, the Lion’s Club, family, friends, community service volunteers and many others just coming out to lend a helping hand. During the clean-up Betty and Carlo Mencucci did a demonstration of gravestone resetting, using the tripod and reset the stone of Otis Wood. An informational tent was set up at the cemetery, which holds more than 700 burials, with free coffee and doughnuts to all volunteers. 

The event marked Cemetery Awareness Day 2023, which is part of the 2023 Rhode Island statewide Historical Cemetery Restoration and Awareness Day. It marked the start of the committee’s spring cleanup season, and new committee members and volunteers will be needed to help tackle some of the 130 historical cemeteries located in town.

“Each weekend as weather permits we work from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on a Saturday or a Sunday to cleanup our historical cemeteries,” explained Mencucci.

The group is now planning a clean-up of the cemetery on the corner of Howard Avenue and Charles Street in Pascoag on Saturday, April 22, beginning at 9 a.m. Volunteers are asked to bring gloves, water, rakes, leaf blowers and a cart, tarp or barrel to haul the leaves to trucks at the road. Mencucci noted the group is also looking for volunteers with pickup trucks to haul the leaves and sticks to the Whipple Compost Facility. 

For more information, contact bmencucci@verizon.net.

Burrillville Lions Club members helped with the effort. From left are Dennis Laboissonniere, Nancy Vermilion and Richard Nolan.

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