A Cincinnati family is upset and speaking out after a cemetery is forcing them to remove a previously approved pair of SpongeBob SquarePants headstones installed over their daughter's grave.
Deborah Walker said her daughter, Sgt. Kimberly Walker, who was found murdered in a hotel room on Valentines Day, was infatuated by the iconic cartoon character and owned a number of SpongeBob items, according to WLWT-TV.
Deborah, who buried her daughter with a SpongeBob doll, ordered two 7,000-pound SpongeBob SquarePants monuments — costing over $13,000 each — to place over six plots the family purchased in the cemetery.
The family said they gained the approval of the cemetery beforehand to install the 6 ft tall, 4 ft wide SpongeBob monuments, one which was even outfitted in an Army uniform.
“I thought it was the greatest thing in the cemetery. I even told the people there that I think this is the best monument I’ve ever seen. It’s the best headstone in the cemetery and they all agreed. It came out really nice,” her sister Kara said.
But one day after the monuments were erected, cemetery officials told the family the monuments were inappropriate and had to be removed from the grounds.
Watch a local news clip, courtesy of WLWT-TV:
In a statement provided to WLWT-TV, Spring Grove President and CEO said the monuments did not fit the cemetery's guidelines.
“Spring Grove deeply regrets the issues involving the monument the Walker family recently purchased," he said. "The family chose a design with the guidance of a Spring Grove employee who unfortunately made a serious error in judgment."
"The monument does not fit within Spring Grove Cemetery guidelines, was not approved by senior management and cannot remain here," Grove continued. "As an historic cemetery, we must constantly balance the needs of families who have just suffered a loss with the thousands of families who have entrusted us in the past."
Grove added that he is "working with the Walker family" to pay for a solution "that will properly memorialize Kimberly within the context of Spring Grove’s historic landscape and guidelines."
Nonetheless, the family still would like SpongeBob to remain.
“I feel like, and we all feel like, SpongeBob should stay there. We bought the plots, all six of them. We put the monuments there, we did what we had to do and they said they could provide that service to us,” Deborah said.
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