The usually quiet Forest Lawn was flooded with hundreds of emotional devotees who came from as far as Japan and Germany to honor the late Michael Jackson on the anniversary of his death in an outing that has become a ritual for his dedicated fan base since his passing three years ago.
Gathered outside Jackson’s final resting place in the tightly secured Great Mausoleum’s Holly Terrace, fans of all ages and backgrounds blanketed the area with homemade cards, posters, teddy bears and other mementos to remember their idol, while thousands of flowers flanked the building, including 10,477 long-stem red roses paid for by admirers worldwide through a grassroots effort, “One Rose for Michael Jackson.”
Robyn Starkand, one of the organizers of the rose campaign, said the amount of flowers ordered has tripled since the program’s inception three years ago when it was first set up along the mausoleum terrace in memory and honor of Jackson.
Fans, whose presence was represented by the flowers because they couldn’t be there, appreciated the effort.
Those who could visit the memorial, like Karin Rothenberge and Petra Effenberger from Germany, came to honor the “King of Pop” for more than just his music.
“He was a wonderful human being,” said Rothernberge, while Effenberger described him as an “Angel on Earth” and a musical genius.
For both women, Jackson’s 2005 trial in which he was found not guilty on all 14 charges related to child molestation and intoxicating a minor will remain with them forever, they said.
Los Angeles locals Felesha Wilson and her daughter, who had several depictions of Jackson emblazoned on custom-made jeans, agreed, calling the trial’s outcome as the overarching victory for Jackson and his fans.
“The best time for me was winning that verdict,” Wilson said.
Lifelong fan Ray Barrientos came to Glendale from Denver, Colo., with his wife Monica and son Damien, to honor Jackson’s legacy.
“I don’t ever want it to fade,” he said. “He meant a lot to me.”
LIANA AGHAJANIAN is a Los Angeles-based journalist whose work has appeared in L.A. Weekly, Paste magazine, New America Media, Eurasianet and The Atlantic. She may be reached email@example.com.