Festive families who attended a “Winter Wonderland” in Milton Keynes this weekend were left “disappointed” when it turned out that the ‘wonderland’ was actually the site of a mass grave for victims of the 1998 Kosovo War.
Organiser Lorenzo Franco says that the attraction in Campbell Park, Milton Keynes, suffered from “poor planning and bad luck” and “would not be reopening this year, either as a Winter Wonderland or as a mass grave”.
Mr Franco apologised to families who had visited his event under the impression that they would be greeted with smiling Santa Clauses, friendly reindeer, and happy huskies.
Instead, families encountered UN officials uncovering 14-year-old human remains and unexploded shells. This, assured Mr Franco yesterday, was not part of the attraction.
The 1998-1999 war in Kosovo was a bloody chapter in the tumultuous tale of the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, and claimed thousands of lives. Even today, families are still searching for loved ones who disappeared from both Serbian and Albanian sides – the discovery of mass graves like the one uncovered in Milton Keynes bring both tragedy and, in some ways, relief.
“It pleases me to know that now I can give my son a proper burial, and I can visit him every day” said an Albanian woman who wishes to remain nameless.
Mr Franco has said that he will be refunding any parents who wished to be given their money back, though he attests that “the lesson that the children will have learnt – that all life is fleeting and transient – is surely worth more than any amount of cash”.