Years ago, current Atlanta Falcons Cheerleader Alice F. decided to have a Halloween party with her high school friends that involved the usual – scary movies, costumes and candy. Her party easily beat out the rest, however, as it took place in the perfect Halloween setting.
The group got to tour a place Alice is highly familiar with: Fair Funeral Home, otherwise known as the business that she and her family have owned for decades.
"The business was started by my great grandfather," Alice said. "He started it pretty much just out of a house and then my grandfather took over later and then eventually my dad bought the business. I think my dad bought the funeral home when I was 2 or 3. So I've grown up in the funeral home my entire life."
Located in Eden, N.C., the funeral home is run with the help of all of Alice's relatives, who all live less than a mile from each other. Along with her father owning it, her mother is the one in charge of the flowers and landscaping while her uncle and aunt actually live inside the home — right across from the casket room.
They also own the house directly next to the funeral home for people who want to have an after-funeral party or even a wedding there, both of which she notes are very common.
Growing up a dancer because of her mom (an aerobics instructor of more than 30 years), Alice took advantage of what she had available and used the funeral home chapel to put on performances with her best friend. They would then send flyers out to their neighbors, promoting the performance that was set to take place at the very untraditional stage.
"I didn't really think much about it until I was in high school. Then I realized that it's kind of weird," Alice said. "It was different. Some people thought I was strange."
Still, Eden is a town of just around 16,000 people and Alice and her mom found a way to bring many of them together by forming a Fourth of July parade that starts at the funeral home.
"Every year everyone meets at the funeral home and then the parade goes around the neighborhood," she said. "It started with 50 people and now there's like a little over 1,000. So that's kind of a big accomplishment."
Now in her third year with the Falcons, her fellow cheerleaders are familiar with the story but still are intrigued to know what she considers obvious questions, like if she's ever seen a dead body.
"Yeah, of course," she said with a laugh. "I've seen a lot of dead bodies."
Alice, who worked at the funeral home as a secretary during high school and whenever she gets the chance to go home, fully plans to keep the family tradition going. Although she previously planned to follow her father's footsteps and buy Fair Funeral Home, now she might have different plans.
"Now that I'm in Atlanta, I haven't decided," she said. "Maybe I'll open up my own funeral home one day. But for now, I don't know if I'm ready to hang up my pom poms just yet."