Viking funerals to be available

'The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes' (Shakespeare)

Story by Phil Mataleven

When procedural details are finalized later in 2009, the trustees of the Bi-State Seacoast Cemetery Association expect to offer a Viking funeral at sea as an alternative to a traditional land burial.

Funeral of a Russian noble, by Siemiradzki. (source: Wikimedia)

Viking funeral, by Dicksee. (source: Wikimedia)

Key to making this possible is a special arrangement with the Department of Homeland Security, treating the funerals as training exercises for which all environmental regulations are waived, per a clause inserted in the 1103-page omnibus spending bill that Congress passed in September of 2008 (we challenge readers to find it!).

A spokesman for the trustees, Mel F. Lewis, waxed enthusiastic, describing the size of boats available and the pyrotechnics. Lewis says they stock a large wardrobe of Viking paraphernalia so that relatives and friends can fully participate as actors in the funeral. Funeral guests and participants are responsible for providing their own mead and other beverages and for making all land transportation arrangements, as well as signing waivers of liability and passing a background security check.

While the trustees claim no rates have been set, this reporter obtained a preliminary list:

Homeland Security license$15,000.00
Bi-State Seacoast Cemetery Association right to inter permit$3,100.00
Coast Guard security$5,000.00
Marine Patrol security$3,000.00
Docking and piloting fees$2,500.00
Ship to burn (up to 35 feet)$15,000.00
Extended burn time (2 hours)$1,000.00
Barge for funeral party (up to 40)$3,500.00
Wagnerian music$500.00
Costume rental$2,500.00
Professional video$1,000.00

The costs are substantial, but Lewis believes there is a definite market for it. Lewis quipped, "Some people would rather go out in a blaze of glory than leave everything to a son or daughter who always disappointed them." And with the depressed market for gas-guzzling boats, there are great savings in buying a vessel to burn. Estate executors should plan on a three-month lead time to schedule the funeral.

In a parallel universe, January, 2009