At Caylee Anthony’s shrine, balloons and photo ops
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — People from as far away as Canada interrupted their plans when the Casey Anthony verdict was announced Tuesday to visit the house where she lived with her daughter and the makeshift memorial to the toddler nearby.
Jodie Ickes silently paid her respects at the clearing in the woods where authorities uncovered 2-year-old Caylee Anthony’s bones. Marking the spot were six helium balloons, dozens of stuffed animals and handwritten signs, some slightly weathered. One sign reading “Justice Will Be Served” had a Winnie The Pooh stuffed bear covering the word “served.”
Visitors snapped pictures with cell phone cameras. Someone brought a dog on a leash. Cars slowed down, while drivers tried to take a picture with one hand and hold the steering wheel with another. Sheriff deputies tried to hurry them along. Cameras and reporters hovered nearby, waiting to ask questions.
Not long after the toddler’s mother was cleared in her death, the once-quiet neighborhood where they lived had turned into a mix of compassion, must-see tourism and parking lot for a fleet of police cars and television trucks.
Ickes, an out-of-work bartender, wiped away a couple tears as she walked up to the clearing a couple blocks from the house where Caylee lived with her mother and grandparents. Ickes lives about a mile away and shared a hairdresser with the Anthonys. She had mixed emotions, deciding in the end that she was “comfortable” with the verdict, especially since she is against the death penalty.
Ickes felt bad for the Anthony family, saying it “was shattered in front of the media.”
“It’s a major intrusion on their privacy,” Ickes said.
Neighbors for the most part didn’t want to talk or even come outdoors on the blistering hot day.
Logan Swain, whose backyard is next to the memorial, was an exception. Not only was the 15-year-old high schooler happy to talk, he allowed a television crew into his house to film him watching the verdict being announced. He wasn’t surprised.
Looking at the more than half-dozen media trucks near his house, Swain said, “I kind of find it entertaining.”
Bianca Nieves lives 10 minutes away in another part of Orlando. She came to the memorial on Monday and then again Tuesday morning. And after the verdict was announced, she came back a third time.
“I really do think she’s guilty, and I wanted to pay my respects to the child,” Nieves said.
This was about Caylee, Lisa Halle said. She brought her 10-year-old son Jett across town to the memorial to think about the little girl and to teach her son about compassion.
Most of the activity was at the memorial, just a few feet off a busy road, where police kept traffic moving. Fewer people ventured down the sidestreet — with hastily installed “No Parking” signs — where the Anthony family lives. One of them was Mariola Raznika of Toronto, who gazed at the pinkish home. She had to interrupt her Florida vacation with her sister, brother-in-law and two nieces.
She said, “It’s something big; It’s something huge.”
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