Today was the first time I've been to Holly Terrace at Forest Lawn Glendale since the "new rules" for Michael Jackson fans have been in place. I went to document the monthly delivery of memorial items sent in from around the world.
In a nutshell, since around May 25th or thereabouts, Forest Lawn security personnel have been verbally instructing fans who visit that they are no longer allowed to congregate on the top porch where the entry doors are, but are welcome to linger on the lower porch, sidewalk and adjacent lawn.
Fans who send flowers, cards, stuffed animals and other gifts for delivery by The Official Michael Jackson Fans of Southern California as well as the original MJFSC have been abuzz on Facebook, Twitter and other MJ message boards, expressing concern that this new policy would have a negative affect on placement of their heartfelt tributes to the King of Pop.
They need not have worried. After eight months of such deliveries, Forest Lawn management understands the importance of this ritual. The June items were indeed placed at the door as usual, after which fans who made the delivery stayed in the approved areas. A few non-regulars who drifted were courteously yet firmly reminded to either move back or leave by security.
So, why the new rules? Last week Forest Lawn executives told me that they'd get back to me with official word, but that didn't happen. They didn't reveal any details to AOL Travel either, so I don't feel singularly snubbed. (Thank you to the admins at MJDreams.net and MJJNews for the link.)
Unofficially, according to Forest Lawn sources I spoke with, the main catalyst for the change in ground rules was TMZ's May 21st publication of photos of MJ's sarcophagus surrounded by Lisa Marie Presley-inspired sunflowers. I've been doing some investigation into the photographer but since I haven't had a chance to speak with that person directly for details, I'll save that for another post when I can give you first-hand quotes.What I can tell you is that MJ fans have been in an uproar over these latest TMZ photos. Images of MJ's final resting place have long been a hot button topic since his entombment, sparking off heated debates and downright vicious catfights on the internet between those for and against, but that's a whole other Jerry Springer.
The crux of the matter is that fan anxiety has been further compounded by the fact that hundreds, if not thousands, of fans have made travel arrangements to be in Los Angeles on June 25th to mark the first anniversary of MJ's passing. Local fans have been equally distressed. Naturally, at the top of their agendas are plans to visit Holly Terrace to pay respects and process their grief, and most have worried that this latest incident has put that all in jeopardy.
Apparently, as of this writing, that is not the case.
Forest Lawn spokesperson Bill Martin told me last week that "nothing has been settled yet" for June 25th and that, overall, the cemetery is a private business on private property; visitors are welcome but those who don't follow the rules will be summarily removed from the premises. In other words, business as usual.
Randy Jackson recently tweeted about the matter but there's
been no updates on his page since, as of this current screen cap tonight. Update: On Friday 6/4 X17Online.com reported that Randy has met with Forest Lawn and fans will be allowed up to the door on June 25 and thereafter. Stay tuned.
Have a story to share about your own experience visiting Holly Terrace? Please leave it in the comments section at the bottom of this post's page.
Want to see more photos of the gifts left at Holly Terrace today? Click here. Or watch the companion video below.
The June video is set to Stevie Wonder's "Never Dreamed You'd Leave In Summer" -- the song he sang at the Staples Center public memorial. I chose it in honor of Stevie's fan-witnessed visit to Holly Terrace on May 31st, when he and his children brought birthday flowers to his mother Lula Mae Hardaway who is entombed two sanctuaries over (steps away) from MJ's location.
And just how did TMZ get wind of Stevie's visit? No one tattled. TMZ sez they monitor MJ-related Facebook pages, where it was first revealed, then followed up with Stevie's reps.