Cincinnati monkey reports draw attention to St. Joseph Cemetery on the West Side

One person danced outside the gates of St. Joseph Cemetery in a monkey costume, and hundreds of additional visitors drove in to peek at 911 reports of monkeys at large.

No monkeys have been seen since those initial calls, but the extra attention in the cemetery was a light-hearted moment with people talking, said Stephen Bittner, president of the Cincinnati Catholic Cemetery Society, owned by St. Joseph. During the first search

“Somebody stopped outside our gates at 9 or 10 pm last night and danced in a monkey suit in front of our entrance,” said Bittner.

On Thursday, investigators noticed people drove to the cemetery shouting where the monkeys are as Cincinnati police and Cincinnati zoo officials looked over the grounds.

Behind the gates of the cemetery, Cincy Shirts sells an “Undercover Monkeys” shirt. A monkey wearing a fedora holds a newspaper on its shirt that reads “West Side Monkeys on the Loose” and is a reference to the legendary Price Hill Chili hangout in East Price Hill.

Twitter accounts popped up pretending to be the monkeys asking, “Where should we swing by?”

Restaurants and businesses like Gold Star Chili, Wardway Fuels, Java Jackets Coffee House, and Ivory House were all the ones who got into the spirit of the monkey business on Facebook.

Back at the cemetery, the number of visitors had doubled on a normal Friday, said Bittner.

But on Thursday, Bittner said 400 or more cars, which is about ten times what is normal, were driving through the grounds. People asked workers who took care of the monkeys. Many then complimented the workers on the appearance of the cemetery, he said.

Bittner said he even received text with a picture of monkeys instead of dogs playing poker. A regular visit to a bank resulted in a cashier once seeing a monkey with a customer.

There were no funerals in the cemetery Thursday when the monkey sightings attracted the additional attention, he said.

No regular visitors complained and the staff had two fun days at work, he said.

COVID-19 made the past year difficult for everyone, including the cemetery, Bittner said.

“I just think, in retrospect, that this was some kind of blessing to give people something to be carefree about in a really dark time,” he said.

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