In 1925, two gentlemen by the names of Harry Kellim and George Thacker purchased twenty-seven acres of land in what is now Bradenton, Florida. The land became dedicated as a burial ground, and the two men had many plans to expand and grow their services.
By 1945, a crematory was added, and by 1957 Harry Kellim’s widow purchased sixteen additional acres and built a funeral home and a cremation garden lined with beautiful orange trees.
Ghost Girl in the Bradenton Cremation Gardens
Today, Manasota Memorial Park is considered one of the most beautiful burial and cremation parks in the area. For Florida native, Kara, it is the only place she’s ever imagined as being her final resting place. Diagnosed with a rare strain of cancer, Kara became convinced that her death would be soon and at too young of an age.
“It sounds incredibly morbid now, but I was getting steadily worse a few months back, and something deep inside me told me it would be wise to prepare for the end,” she said, with a deep and unsure shrug. “I would come to Manasota Park and walk around amongst the headstones and the in the cremation garden.”
“It was beautiful and peaceful there, in a quiet and unusual way…it’s hard to articulate. At the time, I was visiting the park multiple times a week, and had included being buried there in my legalized will. …But everything changed one Monday night.”
A Strange Interlude
“It was late, and Manasota had already technically closed to visitors. Autumn was in full swing and a harvest moon made the entire cemetery fairly bright and easy to see,” Kara said. “I had rounded a corner and came to an area in the park where several benches line the trail, facing the headstones.
“And seated on a bench was a full bodied apparition of a young girl! I stopped and blinked a couple of times to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating,” Kara said with a soft laugh. “She was wearing a brightly colored sundress—far too thin a dress for the crisp, fall night.
“Her hair was tucked into a long braid down her back… And the strangest thing was that I knew she could sense me, but she had her back turned to me, and I couldn’t see her face. ’Hello Kara,’ the girl said to me in a rather singsong voice.
“I immediately thought that this girl was somehow an angel, meant to aid me in my approaching final days,” Kara whispered. ‘Are you…are you my guardian angel?’
“The ghost girl laughed, all the while still not turning to look at me. ’No, no silly…I was told you had become rather gloomy,’ she added, teasingly.
“’Actually I am here on behalf of your grandmother…she thought if you saw her, you would faint on the spot,’ the girl giggled.
“’Yes,” the girl nodded, still looking out towards the park. ‘She asked me to appear before you to tell you that you need to stop being so gosh darn melancholy.’
‘And that you’re going to be living a lot longer, despite your absurd beliefs.’
“I swallowed a few times, trying to process what this strange spirit was telling me,” Kara said, at a loss. “’You mean…I’m not dying?’ I asked, feeling a hope bubble up inside of me. “The girl shook her head, her braid jerking back and forth.
“’Not for a long, long while,’ the girl said, and I could hear a smile in her voice. My family still owns my grandmother’s home in Bradenton, and I think I found my young visitor in one of her old scrapbooks,” Kara said with a smile. “I’ve been making big plans since that amazing, fateful night.”