Pick a funeral, Las Vegas style

Jul 20, 2004 2:39 AM

Gamblers can’t take it with them but they can go out in Las Vegas style.

Palms Mortuaries offers a Las Vegas-themed funeral to families who want their departed loved ones to be remembered in death as they were thought of in life.

Ned Phillips, the mortuaries’ vice president for community relations, says that while most families still opt for a more traditional service, some are choosing funerals "that reflect the life of dad; (they) want a celebration, not a funeral."

Dad or other loved ones can be reflected in nine different settings at the Palms, with the "Fabulous Las Vegas" option involving oversized dice, huge poker chips and gigantic playing cards surrounding either the casket or the urn if dad’s wish was to reduce himself to ashes.

If the family is feeling flush, they can make a Las Vegas farewell more elaborate, meaning a replica of the Fabulous Las Vegas sign and a roulette wheel made up entirely of flowers will be added to the set.

If the dearly departed were a real casino aficionado, Palms will add a slot machine to the scene. Phillips said that in the year the mortuary has been offering themed funerals, between six and 12 families have requested the Fabulous Las Vegas approach.

"We are trying to get people to understand that they can make a personalized statement of the life that was lived," Phillips said.

Two other popular themed funerals are listed in the brochure under the designation Nineteenth Green, a set which includes oversized golf clubs and balls for people "with a passion for golf," and Hero’s Salute, for veterans whose
service to America "was their proudest achievement and honor."

There are six other "life celebrations" mentioned in the brochure, including those that feature cowboy boots, for ranchers and farmers, and Harley-Davidsons for motorcycle enthusiasts.

Phillips recalls one customer being torn between the golf and gambling themes for her mother before finally deciding on Fabulous Las Vegas. She told Phillips that after the funeral a friend of her family said, "That was your mother."

Phillips said family members "can bring in whatever reminds you of that individual and we will display it." He said he is known for his ties and want the flowers on his casket to be arranged in the form of a tie.

He added, however, "We won’t do anything that would damage our property, infringe on the rights of others or be undignified."

Phillips said a staging company had the responsibility of constructing the set and can put together a scene involving props in a couple of hours for people who give the mortuary short notice. He said the costs range from $1,000 to $3,000.