FOREST CITY - It isn’t Halloween yet, but that doesn’t matter for one Forest City resident.
William VanOrden drives a 1986 Cadillac Fleetwood Funeral Coach, so it is only fitting that he loves Halloween.
“One of my favorite holidays is Halloween,” VanOrden said.
He volunteers during the Halloween season at the Clear Lake Haunted Hike and that’s where he found his dream car.
He said the owner had the car sitting outside and he inquired about it. He “didn’t think (the owner) would get rid of it” but last February he called and “asked if I wanted to buy it.”
VanOrden said he always wanted to get a Cadillac and he has been interested in funeral coaches.
“In my opinion (the car) is beautiful, and who doesn’t love Cadillac?” VanOrden said.
He said it didn’t take much to get the car running and he uses it as his “daily driver” to and from his job at Winnebago Industries.
His funeral coach is “one of the best cars I’ve driven” and he gets 30 miles to the gallon on the highway, he said.
VanOrden said he enjoys the car and said “loves driving it, it’s unique.”
“I don’t think it’s morbid at all,” VanOrden said. “It’s definitely not scary at all, not to me, anyway.”
While he doesn’t find anything weird about driving a hearse, he gets a lot of reactions from others in the community.
“Many people find it weird,” VanOrden said.
He said the “weird thing is, people find a white hearse creepier than a black one.”
A lot of people ask him what’s in the back and his answer is “a lot of room.’”
He said a lot of his co-workers like the car but there are some who find it creepy.
“One of my co-workers thinks my car is haunted and won’t park by it at all,” VanOrden said.
Many younger kids love the car while “some find it extremely insulting,” he said.
He said he thinks of it as “nothing more than a decorative station wagon” and doesn’t understand the negative reactions because he finds the funeral coach very respectful.
“In my eyes, the funeral coach is one of the most respectable vehicles,” VanOrden said.
“Only a funeral coach takes you on your last ride to your final resting spot,” he said. “Nothing is more respectful than a funeral.”
He plans to restore the funeral coach to its original condition. The car will be used as a prop for the Haunted Hike this year.
“You gotta love Halloween,” VanOrden said.
Allison Ullmann is a reporter for the Forest City Summit, another Lee Enterprises newspaper.