Arlington, VA

Arlington National Cemetery is preparing to welcome thousands of volunteers tomorrow (Saturday) for its annual wreath removal event, and officials are urging participants to prepare for the big crowds.

Starting at 8 a.m., cemetery officials are expecting “traffic congestion and delays on nearby streets and at the cemetery’s entrances” for the “Wreaths Out” event, according to a news release.

Volunteers will be charged with disposing of the more than 245,000 wreaths distributed at headstones for the “Wreaths Across America” event last month.

“This is a special day where the wreaths placed at these hallowed grounds during the holiday season in remembrance and honor of our nation’s fallen service members and their families will be respectfully removed by volunteers,” Arlington National Cemetery Operations Director Micheal Migliara wrote in a statement. “We encourage volunteers to use all four entrances to access the cemetery which include Memorial Avenue, Ord and Weitzel gate, South gate and for DoD cardholders, the Old Post Chapel gate.”

Much like the wreath-laying event, the cemetery will block off all vehicle access to the grounds until 3 p.m. Saturday.

Family pass holders and volunteers with handicapped passes will be allowed to park in the ANC’s parking garage starting at 7 a.m., on a first-come, first-served basis. Anyone arriving by car should stay in their vehicle until the cemetery opens at 8 a.m.

People arriving via rideshare or taxi should plan on exiting somewhere adjacent to the Arlington Cemetery Metro stop. Officials also highly encourage people taking Metro to reach the event.

The cemetery also issued the following tips for volunteers:

  • Give vehicles and heavy equipment the right of way and let them pass in roadways.
  • Remove only WAA wreaths. Leave all other wreaths or decorations in place.
  • Place wreaths in dumpsters positioned throughout the cemetery and pack them tightly.
  • When dumpsters are filled, do not pile wreaths next to them. Carry wreaths to unfilled dumpsters.
  • Refrain from jumping or climbing on wreaths in dumpsters to compress them.

Flickr photos via Arlington National Cemetery

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