Eternal Meadow Dedication @ Woodlawn Cemetery

Actors Chiara McCarthy (left) and Widget Moore portray 1940s women’s league baseball players Faye Dancer and Pepper Paire, whose legacies inspired the film “A League of Their Own”
Photos by Ted Soqui

The weather gods presided magnanimously over the official opening of Woodlawn Cemetery’s new Eternal Meadow green burial section on Saturday, casting a paper-crisp light over the park.

A kaleidoscope of Monarch butterflies scheduled to make their debut after the obligatory ribbon cutting proved more capricious, however, opting to stay in hibernation a little longer.

Metaphor aside, the butterflies have a job to do here: They will pollinate native plants studded across the meadow and help usher in a new ecosystem of perennial blooms, where bodies will be interred without the chemicals, steel and concrete intrinsic to conventional burial.

A narrow patch of earth intersecting the north side of the cemetery, Eternal Meadow takes up space formerly occupied by a road and offers a wild streak to the otherwise primly manicured grounds. Despite its size, the feeling as you walk alongside it is expansive.

Actors portraying notables interred at Woodlawn — astronaut Sally Ride, actress Edwina Booth and 1940s women’s baseball star Faye Dancer among them — cheerily stalked their respective graves as part of a “Living History” tour. Late civil rights leader, peace activist and California legislator Tom Hayden (1939-2016), the first to be buried at Eternal Meadow, also made a posthumous appearance.

Many ceremony attendees either came for the reenactments or had personal attachments to the cemetery, including several descendants of the Marquez family, who held the historic Mexican land grant Rancho Boca de Santa Monica.

“I think [green burial] is kinda cool because, having buried a lot of people, the idea of being embalmed and put in a box is not something I’d want to do,” said descendant Cindy Morales, 62, who comes regularly to visit the graves of her father, grandmother, brother, great-grandparents, great uncles and cousins.

Patsy Cobb, 70, came for a reenactment at the grave of mentor Thelma Terri, a community leader who died in 1979.

“I grew up in Santa Monica, I was born in Santa Monica, and she was Miss Santa Monica as far as I’m concerned. She took care of all the youth — provided after-school programs, scouts,” Cobb said.

Addressing the crowd, City Manager Rick Cole noted the collective evolution of the community as people consider their own legacies.

“It’s a peaceful place and a peaceful interlude in a turbulent time. We’re surrounded by the memories and the spirits of thousands of people who contributed to making Santa Monica a special community — to making Southern California a unique embodiment of the American Dream,” Cole said.

For socially and ecologically conscious Santa Monica, that dream comes with responsibility, Cole suggested, calling the “light footprint” of people buried in Eternal Meadow “a contribution to future generations.”

— Beige Luciano-Adams

Hayden Plot: Activist and legislator Tom Hayden’s final resting place in Eternal Meadow

A musical prophet of true love and the digital apocalypse, Father John Misty (aka Josh Tillman) joins KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” at 10 a.m. Friday, April 7.

The annual Otis College of Art and Design Kite Festival returns to Santa Monica Pier on Saturday, April 8. See page 33.

“Big Voice,” a documentary about Samohi’s rigorous choir program and its visionary teacher, screens at 2 p.m. Saturday at Santa Monica Public Library.

Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole writes on his “The Long View” blog that he’s hopeful about new leadership of the embattled California Coastal Commission.

Easter is coming! The Santa Monica Jaycees will hold their annual Peter Rabbit Day — including an egg hunt, egg dyeing and sack races — on April 15 at Douglas Park.

Save the Date: The Santa Monica Chamber’s 2017 Sustainable Quality Awards are set for April 20 at Le Méridien Delfina Hotel on Pico Boulevard.