Santa Barbara County official says no word yet on Jackson memorial plans
A Santa Barbara County official said there's no official indication yet that the Jackson family intends to bring Michael Jackson's body to Neverland Ranch for a memorial.
William Boyer, the county's public information officer, said the family hasn't contacted anyone at the Sheriff's Department to discuss how the county would handle the massive crowds that would be expected to descend on the rural ranch should a memorial be held there.
CNN this morning reported that Neverland would be the site of a public viewing Friday, something Santa Barbara officials have been unable to confirm, Boyer said.
"We have received no direct contact from the Jackson family or the ranch owners themselves,'' the spokesman said. "We've tried a variety of methods to reach out and let the family and ranch owners know that the county is available to help out and to find out what it is they are wanting to do, and how we can best accommodate their wishes."
County and sheriff's officials have already held two meetings today to review logistics involved in such an event, he said.
If a memorial procession were to take place, officials believe it would be so massive that cars could be stretched unbroken across the 125 miles between Los Angeles and the Santa Ynez Valley, where Neverland Ranch is located. Officials are already discussing shutting down Figueroa Road, the twisting rural lane outside the ranch, to better manage traffic flow in and out of the ranch, Boyer said.
"We have been trying to prepare ourselves as best as possible in order to accommodate a large event or gathering like this," he said.
-- Catherine Saillant in Ojai