You may not see your local funeral parlor as a place to celebrate events, but rolling with the changing tides, that’s exactly what the staff at Craig Flagler Palms Memorial Gardens wants.

Welcoming longtime friends, business colleagues and well-wishers to the grand reopening on Wednesday, area manager Sal Passalaqua and his team rolled out the red carpet to showcase the tasteful upgrades made during the renovation to the Flagler County location alongside the Flagler Estates expansion of the cemetery.

“We started this in February 2022, but prior it was a four- or five-year project. Flagler County is a growing community and we’re here to grow along with it. We had to meet the needs of the community. Along with this renovation we had a simultaneous project going on just to the south of us next door where we developed 6.25 acres over there, expanding the cemetery because as the county is growing, we need to grow.”

“It seems like when we do constructions or renovations here we have the tendency to do things at the same time. The actual original expansion of this building from 3,000 square feet to the 11,000 we’re at now, which was in 2006, we decided that we would build a mausoleum at the same time. We can’t do anything just once,” he quipped, drawing chuckles.

The food we got is from Honeysuckle Catering, our inhouse catering. So, when you have services here with us, you can have catering here. We do it all right here for you.

More than just an end-of-life relationship, the team at Craig Flagler Palms has been nurturing families in Flagler County for decades, in fact, more than 100 years. Flagler County Commission Chairman Andy Dance shared a personal story about the compassion shown by the team as they laid both his father and uncle to rest.

“Sal, Jenna, Matt and Allen, they’re pillars of our community,” said Dance.

“Not only did they service the families in their time of need, but they service the community by giving back in so many ways. 15 years ago they helped my mom put my dad to rest here and they were just outstanding in that regard. It’s just comforting to know that the people that run this facility care so much about the community and about the people. I’m just glad to call them my friends.”

Raising the toast in celebration was Allen Whetsell, the longtime face of Craig Flagler Palms, and Passalaqua recognized the many lessons and contributions made by Whetsell over the years when introducing him.

Inviting guests to tour the facility, noting the spacious outdoor covered porch, suitable for gatherings and overflow, Passalaqua encouraged attendees from the business and faith-based communities to consider Craig Flagler Palms as a place to hold their meetings, celebrate their events, and more.

“As the families change the way the celebrate their loved ones’ lives, we as leaders in the funeral industry have watched and we’ve listened so we can meet the needs of those families,” said Passalaqua.

“You can see it in the renovations that we did here today, with the outdoor venue that we have outside, the round tables and chairs, the state-of-the-art audio and visual systems, offering catering, and a larger, brighter, modern venue that you see here today. This new facility has been designed for any event, so it’s not just for celebrations of life. If you’re a member of an organization or just yourself, need a meeting space, event space, this is here for you too.”