Michael Jackson fans who had a strong dislike for the tribute platform (dubbed The Putting Green) located just north of Holly Terrace at Forest Lawn Glendale are rejoicing over its demise this week.
It was taken down on Monday and early this morning four members from Forest Lawn's grounds, grass and watering crew laid new sod over the patch of dirt left behind. Team lead Gil told me no new platform would be replacing it.
They used approximately 250 sq. feet of durable multi-grass sod and would be watering it thrice daily for the next week until it takes root. All in a days work for these guys.
So, where can fans leave tributes now? According to cemetery workers on site this morning, items are welcome at the north end of the Holly Terrace patio near the mother and child statue. The statue was wrapped in plastic this morning to protect it from recent cleaning work being done in the area per the crew. This morning I saw two cards and several bouquets of flowers.
What can you leave at Holly Terrace nowadays? I took a straw poll of several Forest Lawn employees around the park this week and each one of them confirmed to me rumors that items left at Holly Terrace are eventually thrown away, in accordance with cemetery policy.
This is not a new policy, it's been a part of their literature for as long as I can remember, dating back to 1988. What's new is a FYI sign that's been placed in the area spelling out the rules about non-conforming decorations just so there's no confusion or surprises.
Readers, I'm not opposed to dumpster diving for photographic evidence to go along with this report, but Forest Lawn's trash bins are in a secure area and I do try to be respectful when on the property getting a story.
What I can tell you is that this morning I witnessed an employee taking an armful of drawings, framed photos and other paper items out from within Holly Terrace and placed them in a company truck. He said they would go to the Jackson family. The garbage can was filled with expired flowers, from what I could see.
Because other cemetery employees had previously told me that flowers surrounding the Jackson sarcophagus were examined for freshness daily, and because this morning's source (who asked not to be photographed or named) was nice enough to answer my questions, I chose not to rip open the bag and snap further images out of common courtesy.
I was able to wander the entire terrace patio this morning with no issues, as were three other people.
My clean up crew source told me that one of the biggest problems with fans leaving things at the Holly Terrace is the mess that candle wax has created. Namely, unsightly stains from wax melted by lit candles and candles that have melted in the hot sun. That wax has soaked into the stone slabs and the cemetery maintenance crew has not been able to clean it off with power washing or preventing it with sealant.
As previously requested by Forest Lawn officials, fans are asked to please leave clean up efforts to their crews. Hopefully this problem will be solved in the future and I'll let you know when and how when it is. Fans can do their part by leaving candles at home or at the very least not leave them burning unattended or in the sun to melt.
I realize that Jackson fans have lots and lots of questions about what's going on at Forest Lawn from day to day. Many eyewitness accounts circulate on forums, Facebook and Twitter - some facts and a lot of speculation and heated, reactionary opinions. Read using your own discrimination.
My goal here is to be objective and offer what I believe to be solid, reliable information. I wish I had all the answers today, because I have a lot of the same questions. I can only be truthful in saying I don't know it all. But I will continue to visit Forest Lawn, ask around, sidestep drama and share with readers what I personally see and hear in an effort to be helpful.