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Custom casket for firefighters among Okla. company’s best sellers

By Donna Goodison
The Boston Herald

BOSTON — Corey Parks describes his company as the “Orange County Choppers” of caskets.

Hotrod Caskets makes custom caskets and urns geared toward hot rodders and bikers, firefighters, poker players and four branches of the U.S. military.

One of the Oklahoma company’s most popular caskets is the “Smoke Eater,” a fire-engine red casket for firefighters with gold-leaf pin striping, diamond plate trim, Maltese cross details and bronze-headed pike poles for carrying. The other best-seller is the “Hot Road Classic,” a diamond plate casket with faux leather interior, iron cross details and twisted steel handles.

“It’s for bikers and hot rodders — non-latte drinkers basically,” Parks quipped.

Hotrod Caskets is among hundreds of companies showing their products and services at the National Funeral Directors Association’s International Convention & Expo, which runs through tomorrow at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

Next year, Florida’s Velella Society will launch biodegradable cremation urns modeled after an ocean creature for those whose final resting place will be the sea. Made of compressed paper, the floatable urns mimic the velella, a jellyfish-like animal known as the “by-the-wind sailor” that lives on the ocean’s surface.

Plans call for a model incorporating a GPS tracking system that will allow loved ones to follow an urn’s ocean journey online.

A Marshfield company recently started offering more traditional ocean burials. In addition to ash scattering, New England Burials at Sea now provides casket-free, full-body burials that can be attended by families and friends.

Owner Brad White says the service is a time-sensitive alternative to the U.S. Navy’s committal services, which are conducted while ships are deployed, preventing mourners from being present.

“They’re backed up because the Navy does 1,200 a year,” White said. “We can do a full-body burial within 48 hours as opposed to what can be a six-month wait because they have to wait for a ship to come in.”

Copyright 2009 Boston Herald Inc.