I’ve attended a number of funerals in my life, but never before Friday had I driven in an official funeral procession. My car was one of five, including the hearse, and we drove from the funeral home in my grandfather’s town, Monroeville, to the cemetary in nearby Pittsburgh. This included time both on and off the highway. The first car in line was the escort car from the funeral home, followed by the hearse. Next in line was a car driven by my uncle, then my car, and bringing up the rear was a car driven by my cousin. It was a small burial attended only by family and one close friend.
Here are my observations about driving in the funeral procession:
- The funeral director placed a green flag with white lettering (“Funeral”), attached to a magnetic anchoring device, on the driver-side roof of every vehicle
- All vehicles but the hearse used the hazzard lights the entire procession
- Other vehicles respected the procession and yielded to us
- When the beginning of the procession had gone through a green light that was red by the time the end went through, we proceeded through and other cars yielded to us
- On the highway, whether the speed limit was 55 or 65 miles per hour, we drove no faster than 40 MPH
- It was confusing, habitually speaking, not to use turn signals since the hazzards were on the whole time
After arriving at the cemetary, Jen and I, along with my cousins, uncle, and the funeral directors, were the pallbearers. It was my second time as a pallbearer, and the experience is always an honor. We laid my grandpa to rest on the unusually sunny January day.
On the way back to town, we passed three establishments — in order — bearing each of my names: Ryan’s Pub, then Gabriel’s something or other, and finally, Elmer’s Aquarium Pet Center.