Jenni Rivera memorial: Fans travel from afar, even without tickets
Fans of singer Jenni Rivera began arriving at Universal City Walk for her memorial Wednesday, many carrying a single white rose -- as requested by her family.
Cars were lined up along the parking lot entrance, many with messages written on their windows: "Jenni, we love you" and "We are going to miss you." Other cars blasted her music.
As they made their way to the Gibson Amphitheatre, many brought handmade posters and roses. Rivera's children asked that donations be made in lieu of flowers to the Jenni Rivera Love Foundation, in addition to a single white rose.
Tickets to the memorial sold out within minutes. The event is free, but a $1 refundable service fee was charged to credit cards. No media is being allowed access inside the event, but jumbo screens had been set up in the courtyard outside the amphitheater to live stream the memorial.
Denise Montalvo didn't get a ticket, but she left San Diego at 1 a.m. for Los Angeles with her mother and two family friends. By 8 a.m., they were among the group of people crowding in front of jumbo screens at the courtyard of Universal City Walk.
"She was a great woman and it meant a lot to come out here," said the 15-year-old.
Wednesday's memorial is a combination of mourning and celebration, Montalvo said. Rivera's song "Cuando Muere una Dama" -- "When a Lady Dies" -- said she wanted her death to be a celebration, Montalvo said.
"We're trying not to be sad," she said.
Montalvo was introduced to Rivera's voice seven years ago, when her mom played her songs. But it wasn't until she was 12 that she began to appreciate Rivera's music. She said she could relate to Rivera because her family worked hard to get a better life, just like Montalvo's.
Fan Lidia Farrias stood next to her husband, Jose, watching the Jenni Rivera memorial coverage on a jumbo screen.
She wore a black Jenni Rivera T-shirt she had just bought from a store.
Farrias was unable to get tickets online, but wanted to come anyway.
"I've been unable to see any of her shows, but I wasn't going to miss this," Farrias said.
She and her husband drove from Santa Maria, leaving their home at 3 a.m.
Farrias said today was a mix day of happiness and sadness because she was saying farewell to a singer she admired, who encouraged her to become a stronger woman.
"Whenever I listened to her songs, I felt like I could tackle anything," she said.