Sunday, July 24, 2011

LOVE Lives On! Gardner St. June 25, 2011

There was a sense of joy in the air this warm summer day on June 25th, 2011. It always strikes me as so contrary to the sadness... this bittersweet feeling. The purpose of this event, this gathering of MJ fans from all over the world, on June 25th was to promote donations for William Wagener’s documentary which is intended to finally turn the tide and put Tom Sneddon in jail. A documentary which apparently will gather facts and garner the attention needed after all these years to expose the underhandedness, the lies and the laws Sneddon broke in his vicious vendetta against Michael. I pray this documentary is made and as a result former Santa Barbara D.A. Thomas Sneddon is finally no longer above the law but brought to justice.
Beyond this purpose was another even more important purpose for myself and many other fans, the celebration of a victorious fight which has brought honor and vindication to Michael Jackson... Uncover Michael Jackson's Name at Gardner Street Elementary School. Two Soldiers of LOVE from Michael’s Army, Jennifer Marino and Catherine Gross, were present at this event and each spoke. Their team worked very diligently with determined commitment to achieve this goal. I felt so elated to personally see with my own eyes the fruition of all the hard work of this team from Face Book “Uncover Michael Jackson’s Name (The Gardner St. School Issue Campaign). Many fans from all over the world, including myself, had joined in on this effort and signed petitions and also carried petitions in Hollywood for neighbors and local businesses to sign resulting in thousands of signatures in support of this cause. It was a successful community effort to turn the tide of negativity toward Michael Jackson. I know myself along with multitudes of others feel that the “Uncovering of Michael’s name” was a turning point in vindicating Michael’s name and public image from all the damage a slanted, greedy, slanderous media have unjustly heaped upon him even in death.
There were many great moments in this day starting with pulling into the school parking lot at Gardner, looking up and right there big and clear for all to see is Michael’s name gleaming shiny bright above the auditorium doors. The building has been crisply painted and the shiny, silver letters are clean and pristine. Rounding the school building on my way to the auditorium I see a mural of children and adults in silhouette holding hands which brings to mind Michael’s song "Cry" and under it the inspired artist penned the words, “ Rise from your slumber and remember who you are, the sky is not the limit when you're a STAR.”

The first thing you see when you enter the hallway which leads to the auditorium and main school office are framed pictures of the student’s art work. In these pictures they have artistically completed Michael’s portrait at different times in his life. Half of the picture is Michael’s photo and the other half they have drawn in the rest of his face. I love this so much and believe Michael too would have loved to have seen the children’s artistic endeavors, some are really very good.

There were many there that day lending to the festivities including SUNN, a young new artist, who sang a beautiful tribute to Michael she recently released. Larry Nimmer was present video taping the day’s events, also sharing portions of his video from the court hearing in 2005 which was instrumental in revealing the truth about Michael and Neverland for the members of the jury. This is now a documentary, "The Untold Story of Neverland." His narration was wonderful and the pictures of his recent visit to Neverland were captivating. Beautiful Tatiana from Michael’s video “The Way You Make Me Feel” was present. Majestik the Magnificent was the emcee. William Wagner spoke several times about his planned documentary. The realtor who sold Michael Neverland was present and spoke so highly and lovingly of Michael. There were several Michael Jackson impersonators, including Michael Kiss who amazingly ramped up the energy level and love in the room bringing great honor to Michael Jackson. Also the Michael Jackson bike which recently was shown to Prince and Paris at their home was present outside for fans to view first hand.

                                  Hallway pic of children's MJ art projects c/o Debbie Jackson

The ultimate moment of the day though was when Thomas “Hurricane” Mesereau entered the auditorium. Mr. Mesereau was the main reason I was in attendance at this event. I had left my cherished visiting and paying respects to Michael at Forest Lawn to come to the school specifically to see Tom Mesereau. As he came in the back doors and walked down to the front the fans all flew to their feet and went wild with applause and cheers. My heart over flowed with love and gratitude toward Mr. Mesereau. Sitting in the end seat of the row I was thrilled to see him walking down the isle right by me. While enthusiastically clapping with all my might I heard myself yell above the cheers “THANK YOU for all you did for Michael!” and was ecstatic when he looked at me smiling, nodding in return, mouthed the words “Your welcome.” He was so gracious and humble. He truly is the greatest defense lawyer in the United States, an honor which he earned with integrity, humility and deep personal commitment to his daily fight for truth and justice; not just for Michael but for all his clients, a true rarity in today’s legal profession. Later to be sure my thanks were conveyed and as I posed for a picture with him, while standing in Michael’s classroom, I was able to look him in the eye and tell him personally “Thank you for all you did for Michael.” He said “Your welcome. It was my pleasure to help Michael.” Then he pointed and asked me if I had seen the display the children had arranged with the signed chalkboard preserved and framed behind glass. This was from the original dedication where Michael signed “Love the Children ~ Michael Jackson.” Below is my cherished picture with Tom Mesereau and just behind us is the chalkboard. Thank you so much, Sandy, for sending this picture to me.

Every where you look in this school which honors Michael so beautifully you are reminded of Michael’s spirit, his essence of artistic creativity and heart for children. I sat there in the audience in the original wooden auditorium chairs that Michael once sat in and felt Michael’s presence everywhere. I smiled as I glanced to the back of the room and attached to the wall were hundreds of butterflies the children had drawn and colored. Michael’s music played and beautiful brown skinned babies danced in the isles to Michael’s voice. The entire school is frozen in time, preserved just as it was when Michael attended. At one point in Michael Kiss’ performance I moved up closer to get a better picture and felt a rush of elation when I realized as I stood in between Tom Mesereau and Michael Kiss on stage that I was standing in what seemed to be the very same spot that Michael himself stood in when he attended the original dedication and listened to the children’s choir sing "We Are The World." I pictured his beautiful face and felt the joy he must have felt that day when he stated, “This is the happiest day of my life.”  

After the last performance and the photos were completed I returned to the auditorium and took my seat only to be summoned away. I heard those words “Go to the principal’s office” and needless to say even after all these years they brought feelings of anxiety fluttering up in side me. I laughed loudly as I realized it was Michael Kiss who wanted to see me. I happily climbed the stairs I knew Michael Jackson had also climbed in his life and found my way through the corridors and entered the main office. I was standing waiting to talk to MK who was literally using the principal’s office as his dressing room, when above me on the wall a TV was running a loop of the school announcements. I stood there holding on to the cool counter as Michael's voice filled my senses. He was speaking, giving his acceptance speech, with that gorgeous smile saying the very words I had just earlier heard in my head. My mouth hanging open and covered in chills I realized that all day long, every day the children in this school hear Michael’s beautiful voice and see his face…what an inspiration Michael is for the generations that have been and are to come. I glanced down from the over head TV and standing before me was the man who made all this possible, the man who fought right along side the team of Michael fans, the man who went to bat with the board and pushed to bring honor back to Michael Jackson at Gardner St. Elementary School, Principal Urbina. I delightedly said “Principal Urbina you are the one who fought so hard for Michael! It’s so nice to meet you. I want to personally thank you for all you have done for him and getting his name uncovered. All the fans appreciate it so much. The school looks just great!” He said as we vigorously shook hands, “It was my pleasure. Thank you for coming today.” Then Michael Kiss’ team member stepped out and called me in to his dressing room. It was an amazing day filled with closely held surprises and many blessings.

                                Picture of the TV monitor in main office c/o of Debbie Jackson
                             Principal Urbina and the children on February 2011. Victory!

As the day ended many fans went outside to look at an amazingly crafted motorcycle, the Michael Jackson bike, where builder of this bike, Marcel “Porkchop” Miller, adorned the bike with many renderings of Michael through out his career. All the fans looked closely at his beautiful work and wished we could have a ride. 

It was, as always, with most all Michael events a blessed day filled with LOVE about and for our beautiful Michael Jackson, our inspiration, the connector of hearts and lives around the globe. Michael’s wish for unity and LOVE around the world in action… his wish fulfilled one more day… proving truly that LOVE never dies.  LOVE will always Live On in Michael's name!

Video of Michael Kiss by Larry Nimmer. Thank you Larry!

Video by Debbie Jackson. Thank you Debbie!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Greed Destroys - LOVE SURVIVES Updated 3/7/12

Update Roses for MJJ - 3/7/12:

I want to update and clarify this year 2012 One Rose for Michael is NOT being facilitated by Sofie Stranberg or the original One Rose for Michael Face Book page. She has been reported for stealing the fan's money and the authorities are looking into it. I was going to delete this blog post but then thought, No, it needs to stay because people need to know what Sofie did to Michael, the children and the fan community at large. What she did is incomprehensible and should be shouted from the highest roof top for all to hear. 

Always be careful where and to who you donate your money. There should always be full accountability at all times for all money donated.
Please see my latest One Rose for Michael J. Jackson blog post (the link is above) for all the new exciting details about how to donate with complete confidence. Know that your money will indeed go directly to the Rose Grower this year with no fan middle person ever touching or seeing the money. All donations go directly to the provider of the roses, Passion Growers, and those roses will be delivered to Holly Terrace for Michael on June 24th the day before the June 25th anniversary. 

If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comment section below or you can go to the new One Rose for Michael J. Jackson Face Book page:

You can also access information about this year's 2012 One Rose for Michael J. Jackson at the new website:

Update 3/14/12 - UNICEF link:
** Also please see this additional link to UNICEF in conjunction with the new 2012 One Rose for Michael J. Jackson roses. If you would still like to donate to directly to UNICEF to help children around the world in Michael Jackson's name you may do so via this link.

Updated on Vaccines posted 7/4/2011:

It is with great sadness... 

That I remove / rewrite / update this post on my blog.

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every person's need,
but not every person's greed"

This post was made originally to support a cause "One Rose For Michael - Vaccinate the Children for Michael." I felt this was an amazingly awesome and worthy cause! Some thing so beautiful, something that fully honored Michael! Fans from all over the world donated to Sofie Stranberg from One Rose for Michael Face Book Page to raise money in Michael's name for UNICEF.  I gladly supported and donated personally and asked fans from all over the world via my blog to support this cause in honor of Michael Jackson's 53rd birthday, August 29, 2011.

Sofie Stranberg from One Rose for Michael told us she was collecting donations to vaccinate children against disease all over the world via UNICEF. We were asked to donate just $2 per vaccine per child. Fans everywhere sent in their money and now it is gone, Sofie is gone and the children who desperately needed these vaccines will not get them. Nothing has been given to UNICEF, not one cent! In fact UNICEF has never heard of Sofie Stranberg or One Rose For Michael or the cause we were supporting.

Sofie had told us that we had raised enough money to vaccinate 5353 children. We don't even know if that is true at this point. All the fans who joined in the effort know is at least $10,000 has vanished because of greed, lies and selfishness. The very thing that stalked Michael his entire life is still here dogging his legacy of LOVE. I am beyond disappointed and very angry. I am angry at myself because I rarely ever donate to MJ Fan causes. I generally donate directly to organizations and charities. That way I know my money is going exactly where I intend it to go and receipts are provided for record keeping.

I apologize to each and every person who read my blog and donated to this cause. We were all duped. We were all lied to. My prayer is that the authorities track down Sofie and get the money back and it will finally go to UNICEF and the children. However since she has not been heard from since Nov. 17th and no one has been able to find her, not online, nor by telegraph or phone, or at her home, the chances of that are very slim.

Again I apologize for ever having promoted this cause. We must not allow the greed and dishonesty of a few to discourage us from reaching out with out hearts and wallets to help the children and other worthy causes. Michael was relentlessly besieged by liars and greedy scam artists from all angles his entire life. He never let their evilness dampen his spirit of caring and LOVE for the needy and hurting. We must not let this dampen our spirit of caring, but just learn from this and move on. Be wise in our donations and efforts to help others.

If you still would like to donate and know without a doubt that what you donate will truly help the children here are two links that will take you directly to beautiful, well known and established,  trustworthy organizations: UNICEF and World Vision.

UNICEF - Home Page

World Vision - Adopt a Child Home Page

Beautiful Michael Singing "What More Can I Give?"

Excerpts: Heal The World by Michael Jackson:
" There's a place in your heart and I know that is love... 
It only cares for joyful giving... Feel God's Glow... 
If you care enough for the living... make a little space...make a better place 
for you and for me and the entire human race. 
In my heart I feel you are all my brothers...
There are people dying... if you care enough for the living... 
make a better place for you and for me."

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Neverland Forever by Air - June 2011

"So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!" — J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan)

It was Friday morning. I had been impatiently waiting for this day for weeks. The moment I saw the advertisement, without a moment’s hesitation I called Channel Islands Helicopters and reserved my spot. In speaking with very friendly, Sean Casey, the brother of the owner, Dan Casey, I learned I was one of the first to book, so a prime time was available… no marine layer expected at that time of day and still plenty of time for traveling by land to visit the gates afterward. Sean was so easily accessible to make plans with, as well as fun and easy to talk to. He assured me it would be a smooth flight. I have a fear of heights but even that did not deter me from making this reservation. Over and over I tried to picture in my mind what it would be like to be so close to Neverland…there was just simply no way of knowing what to expect. I had visited the gates of Neverland many times and each time wishing upon a star that one day… just maybe... one day when I had the nerve and accessibility I’d somehow fly by helicopter over Michael’s beloved Neverland and see it with my own eyes. Other than physically walking on to the property here was a dream come true. Moreover if we could turn back time 10 years that of course would be my ideal, ultimate, perfect dream… but then I wish that everyday since Michael’s passing.  

The 25th of every month holds a somberness but in June so much sadness envelopes the MJ community. I have been missing Michael everyday since his death and always think of him daily, throughout each day, but in May I felt the wave of grief and sadness begin to wash over me again. I know I am not alone. Thankfully with the millions online around the world it is easy to find others who feel the very same way about Michael Jackson. This last weekend I heard it explained by a wonderful MJ fan, a scientist, from Spain:  This phenomenal world wide continuous grief over Michael’s loss has not gotten better but only continues to grow. The normal grieving process has been circumvented by the circumstances of Michael’s death and magnanimous person that he truly was. In fact now two years after his death in the normal grieving process of loosing someone you love when acceptance is the next step, many have found themselves instead needing to feel even closer to Michael Jackson. The missing him, the tears, the longing and need to feel closer to him in some tiny way has such a strong, organic pull in each of us, because Michael Jackson was so huge, bigger than life in all he did, so LOVED around the world. He had the ability to personally touch each person’s heart and soul. He was our Peter Pan never meant to leave us so soon and in such a horrific, shocking way that the normal grieving process did not take effect around the world but was sidelined. As a result and with the aid of the internet the MJ community has drawn together to comfort and heal in a way never seen before on this planet. 

For me the grief has gotten better because I am able to visit so many places where Michael spent time and then channel my experiences in my writing. It is very cathartic for me. Somehow I need to be where he was, meet people he knew or even shopped with, it is healing for me, yet there is never enough and always no matter where I go or who I meet there is emptiness because he is not there. He will never be there. He is gone… only his LOVE lives on, a giant, global LOVE that surrounds this planet touching people on every single continent.

I am one who believes beyond a shadow of a doubt that Michael Jackson was murdered and the man on trial for his murder, Conrad Murray, although culpable for his actions in Michael’s death is only the fall guy and did not act alone. Michael was always different when he walked this earth. He thought outside the box and never followed the normal societal boundaries in his artistic way of thinking. He was a genius motivated by the music planted in his soul while he was still in the womb. An artistic genius elevated to a spiritual level seen in only a handful of humans over the centuries. This world will never see the likes of this amazing man again. I feel so blessed to have lived in his lifetime. He was motivated by LOVE pure and simple and held on to the child like quality that most adults loose early in their tweens. Michael kept it because it was there that he felt most LOVED, most free to be himself and where the source of his creativity dwelled. Michael said “In children I see the face of God.” This LOVE that Michael shared with the world still LIVES. It lives in the MJ fan community. It grows each day and as I prepared for my flight over Neverland I felt it consume every fiber of my being. Yes the LOVE, Michael’s LOVE, is the anecdote for the grief, Michael’s invisible thread of LOVE weaving its way, connecting hearts around the world, connecting people from all parts of the world in a planetary grieving process.

Like a little child at Christmas I felt that June 24th was never going to arrive. I could hardly contain myself. I had not realized how nervous and excited I truly was until my friend, Kathy, just in from Cabo, sported us off in her little, bright lime green, rent a car. Taking no chances of missing my flight she obliged arriving extra early so we would have maximum drive time in case of hold ups.

My plan was to take a single red rose to drop from the helicopter over the far hills of Neverland and say a prayer for Michael. We weren’t long on our journey when I felt something missing and suddenly realized what that was as I blurted out as if the world had ended, “Oh my God! I forgot my red rose!!” She quickly veered the lime green bullet into a grocery store so I could obtain another red rose… I simply had to have my red rose. Instantaneously my cell phone rang and my dear friend on the other end of the line said “Betty, I have two UK MJ fans here who are taking the 1:00p.m. Channel Islands Helicopter flight. Isn’t that your flight?” Amazed I answered “YES! They must be my co-passengers since there is only room for 3 passengers on each flight.” Thinking to myself how that is SO God and SO Michael to introduce me to my fellow helicopter co-passengers on a dream come true flight even before I get there! I just sat there dumb founded as she continued to tell me their names saying, “They are bringing you four red roses.” Suddenly Nicky from the UK was on the line and I was talking to someone I had never met before who had traveled from the other side of the planet. We mutually shared our uncontainable exuberance over our upcoming flight together and for one more time in this amazing Michael journey I felt truly… I was Not Alone.

In my life there have been meager and hard felt times when as a struggling single mother, living off one sparse income, I fed and clothed my children on a wing and a prayer, so I am not unaccustomed to miracles like food on my door step or a check I never knew I was owed arriving in the mail or $50 in my purse seemingly from no where. This was just a little thing…a needed single red rose for Michael that I could easily afford; yet still as I sat and heard those words and felt the rush of God’s graceful reassurance and blessing flow over me I felt peace fill my heart and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I was exactly where I was suppose to be, doing exactly what God wanted me to do, at exactly the moment assigned…. my divine appointment.  Astoundingly reassured God proved to me one more time that He knows the smallest desires of our hearts and gladly and freely blesses us with them when we are in His perfect will. I so love those affirmations from God.  So… having pulled into the market place to buy a single red rose and with never stepping out of the car I put my purse down and felt blessed abundantly with not one red rose but four red roses instead. As the bible says “My cup runneth over.” My Christian friend smiled and supportively said, “See, God is in charge” as she directed her bright, lime green car away from the grocery store and on down the road to Neverland we flew as we both said “Thank you Lord!”

We quickly traveled along the now very familiar, beautiful road which runs through my neighboring valley, emerging with the Pacific on our left as we veered right in pursuit of our destination, the Santa Ynez Airport. However my mind and heart were racing so that I was not able to drink in the landscape as I normally do. The usually soothing journey, even the beautiful Pacific seemed dull and dark with the heavy marine layer surrounding us like a cumbersome thick blanket. The normally comforting feeling I get from the low lying clouds only seemed instead to be holding me back from all the day had in store. I couldn’t wait to break free from it. I noticed little, but took great comfort in Michael’s beautiful voice serenading us as we traveled. All was a blur to me until we made the turn up into the Santa Ynez Valley and broke through the marine layer. There the sudden brilliance of the azure blue sky glistened and the wild flowers greeted us as if to say ‘This day was made especially for your Neverland flight.’

Excitement continued to spill over in my heart as we flew down the road to seek out the airport. We arrived with time to spare to find the cutest, quaintest airport located just moments away from Solvang. There was a wonderful cool breeze, an amazing beautifully well cared for flower garden complete with luscious grape vines, which of course the gardener in me noticed and took comfort in immediately. A giant shade tree set in the middle of emerald green grass with an inviting row of wooden Victorian lawn chairs looked out over the small airstrip. There was a group of MJ fans gathered at a picnic table and I smiled and greeted them as I walked toward the airport office to seek out my pilot. I met and introduced myself to the pilot, Dan Casey, a very nice man who seemed eager to learn information about Neverland from the fans and without prompting I immediately began to regal him with stories I had read. One in particular about Michael’s award house on the Neverland property. He was attentive and very accommodating while he answered my questions about where we would fly and what we would see. The staff was welcoming and ready for excited and exuberant Michael Jackson fans and were very open, reassuring and friendly. 

In my anxiety and need to leave early we had arrived over an hour early so we decided to travel on into Solvang for a quick look at Michael’s favorite Solvang antique store. I wanted to show my friend the wonderful Violina Virtuoso music box. To my delight Dorothy was working and I was able to talk to her again about Michael and as always the love that fills her face at the mention of his name glowed forth. She quickly offered to play the music box for us and proceeded to turn it on. My friend was amazed. I love to see the look on the faces of those who have never heard it before. The gasp as the sound greets their ears and travels to their heart. A Face Book friend, Siren from Canada, who also visited the antique store over the week of June 25th described this music as “A heavenly sound, like angels weeping, touching the depth of your soul.” I was thrilled to learn this week as well that this beautiful and unique piece may still be on the premises at Neverland.         

After our visit to the antique store we scurried on back to the airport but stopped briefly as my eye caught sight of the most amazing sign posted in front of the local school which I found so fitting for this journey. I could not resist jumping out to snap a pic of, “An Invitation To Dance” another sign from God I was on my right path. Hopping back in the bullet we sped off to the airport where I physically met my co-passengers, Nicky and Rachael, from the UK. We immediately bonded and they gave me my roses for the flight. Also each of us were given sunflowers for Michael. It had been a concern for me that tossing out anything from the helicopter including biodegradable flowers may be considered rude and inconsiderate. Then I learned that the flowers would be thrown out at Zaca Lake which is on the border to Michael’s Neverland property, it will always be Michael’s Neverland to me. I had learned on previous visits to Neverland that Michael had planned on buying this Zaca Lake property because of the Indian spiritual history behind it but cancelled his plans when in 2004 and 2005 he had to turn his attention to surviving living hell. So it was with deep sorrow that on our flight I tossed the flowers out the helicopter door over Zaca Lake and Neverland and said a prayer for Justice for Michael Jackson and safety and protection for his beautiful children. It seemed the most appropriate place to say such a prayer for that is where one of Michael Jackson’s dreams died and in opposition to what was done to Michael I wanted to be a teeny part in the process to reignite hope and healing over Michael’s legacy. 

The three of us, the 1:00 o’clock passengers, met and immediately began enthusiastic conversation. There was an instantaneous bond in LOVE for Michael and our excitement was almost uncontainable. We laughed, hugged and shared about how we met ahead of time through my beautiful friend, Robyn. I looked at each and felt I’d known them all my life. They were my sisters immediately. These two lovely ladies traveled from the other side of the globe for just this moment in time to stand with me, for the three of us to fly together our hearts connected by Michael's LOVE. Only God can do this… create this divine appointment.

Travis Olson approached us, in a smiling and reassuring way stating he needed to take us aside for a safety meeting. I perked up and immediately pushed to the back of my mind any past conversations and warnings from well meaning people about how dangerous helicopters are, refusing to allow negativity in. Turns out he just wanted to give us a very simple explanation of how to approach the helicopter, where to step and how to handle the seat belts. As he talked I was so excited I could barely retain what he was saying so I just prayed, “Dear Lord please don’t let anything happen. Give us a smooth safe ride” and then as soon as he finished I turned back to talking to my new friends about Neverland and their journey to this moment in time. 
We made our way out on to the tarmac and waited for our bird to arrive. Just like in the movies we heard it before we saw it, then there it was the blades whirring loudly above. Somehow it looked very small in the air but when it landed it looked so much bigger and sturdier. We stood back at a safe distance while three fans with smiles big as the sun hopped out and walked toward us, Speechless, thumbs up. That was all I needed to see. I was more than ready to jump on board. All fear of heights waylaid for the moment. I was wondering how I would react since I was sitting in the front and don't do well with heights but mentally reassured myself  that I’d be strapped in and the pilot was experienced. Travis escorted us out to the helicopter. The sight, sound and wind of the blades whooshing way over head like a giant wind machine. I found myself wondering why everyone always ducks when around a helicopter; the blades seemed so high there was no danger... but then was told later ducking is a good thing around a helicopter... as not everyone is a vertically challenged short person like myself. Then Travis helped us in with a little step stool and we were careful to step only where he had instructed us to do so. Dan Casey, the owner and pilot, sat inside and greeted each of us with a big smile while handing us individual head sets with microphones to wear. It is very loud in the helicopter and speaking into the microphone headset made it very easy to communicate. Dan turned on the helicopter IPOD and Michael’s beautiful voice filled our headsets as we lifted off up, up, up into the air. He whisked us away from the airport... destination: Neverland. Literally… the GPS was set for NVRLND. I felt like Tinkerbell… if you only believe! “I do believe! I do believe!” My stomach was absolutely fine and it was such a smooth ride I had no fear of heights at all; only the most amazing view of Michael’s beautiful neighboring countryside. I was amazed to learn as we flew that we were traveling at 120 mph… it seemed like only about 4 mph. It was such a smooth and comfortable ride I quickly settled in and all qualms and nervousness about the flight itself vanished. Dan was fun, friendly and accommodating and confirmed we would look for Michael’s awards house on the property and have a very close up view of Neverland. I was happy to realize he was very interested in new information about the property and was happy to help find this house for us. 

Before you know it rising up out of the seemingly never ending dry, scrub brush an emerald island of green appeared, there it was… Michael’s beloved Neverland! It took my breath away. We flew over the main gates which are now re-installed; however are missing the incredible gold filigree arch and adornments, apparently all sold at auction. It was very sad to me as they do not look like Michael’s gates although I am happy they are back in some form. What struck me the most were the trees, so many trees around Michael’s main house. The trees made it difficult to see the house and I immediately thought of Michael saying how much he loved trees and made a mental note to search for The Giving Tree. Everything went so quickly as we circled lower and lower. I was torn between just looking and taking pics. Dan must have noticed my anxiety and reassured me saying, “Remember to take time to just look and take it in and don’t worry about the pictures.” So yes I did… I tried to snap pics and was able to get some but my UK friends obtained many more. We later made a pact to share all of them with each other. The pictures you see in this story are from all three of us.

The grounds are very well kept up, like a beautiful sanctuary. Clearly you can see why Michael loved living there so much. The rides are gone now; however the grounds around each area where a ride was placed is maintained and restored to just as it was when Michael lived there and the rides were present. I got the feeling of “If you build it they will come.” The lake is just beautiful with its gushing towers of spraying water. Then I noticed right there before us lay the bridge. The same bridge Michael and his good friend, Ryan White, walked on and happily talked and laughed. The flower beds are gorgeous, filled with brilliant glowing flowers, and the train station and Neverland logo are simply beautiful, restored on the outside just as Michael would have had it, albeit the statues are still missing. Seeing the crystal blue pool brought a huge smile as memories flooded my mind of Michael’s home movies when his nephews kept pushing him in the pool. Also the rolling grass triggered pictures of Michael on an Easter egg hunt. What great times Michael had living in this oasis, his retreat from all the evil that stalked him.  I felt such pain for him as I thought about how he was forced to leave this incredible place because of greed and lies. Like all things Michael the heartache never leaves; however the beauty and joy always seems to over ride it, creating the most bittersweet of experiences. I don’t think I stopped smiling once the entire trip even when I welled up with tears. I thought I would cry, I mean loose it, but I didn’t because it was simply just too amazing and I didn’t want to miss a thing. 

I told the pilot a group of friends would be on a bus at the gates so he circled back around to the front gate. They had not arrived yet so he circled back to show us the view from the other side of the gates looking out. Something I thought I’d never see but yearn to see each time I visit. To be on the other side of those front gates was simply amazing. He decided to look for the bus as we circled around again and there along Figueroa Mtn.Rd. we spotted it running a bit late moving on down the road to Neverland. I couldn’t believe it when Dan said lets just fly along next to them for a while so you can wave at them. I laughed a big belly laugh and waved and waved as we did indeed fly along next to the bus and then he jokingly said “They can’t see you.” Later I was told they did see us… well the helicopter anyway flying along next to them. Like a big kid I happily said “That was ME!!”

He flew us over to Zaca Lake at this point where he hovered as each of us dropped our flowers saying a silent prayer for Michael. Dan was so kind, considerate and understanding as he said “Did you each have time to say your prayer?” as we nodded and said yes into our headsets in response, then I was astonished as he maneuvered the helicopter back and dropped the nose so we could get a good look at our flowers laying on the Neverland hillside. It was the most considerate and kind thing he could have done at that moment. “God bless your sweet soul, Michael, and your children” is all I could think of at that moment as tears filled my eyes. 

Dan then asked the question he already knew the answer to, “Would you like to go take another look at Neverland?” A huge unanimous “YES! OMG Are you kidding? YES!” echoed through the microphones and he spun us around and we flew back over Neverland for another closer look. I had wanted to get another pic of both the butterflies at the base of where the ferris wheel once stood and also of the train station. This time we also looked for the house, the three bedroom house on the Neverland property which held many of Michael’s awards. He did not keep them in his main home. As the most incredible and loving father he wanted his children to have the most normal childhood he could give them, so he did not want his children to know him as anything but “Daddy.” Dan had said there were a couple of places it might be so he zoomed us over to the Zoo area. I didn’t see any animals but we all now know, with thanks to Larry Nimmer, that the staff are housing animals there today, tending to sick animals that some how have come by way of Neverland. Somehow I believe Michael would approve wholeheartedly of this wonderful kindness. We found a large building near the barn but it didn’t coincide with the story I had read. So he flew over to another area and there up and away from the house back on a dirt road and up a hill was a small house. Yes this one fit the description completely. I looked down on this humble, unassuming, certainly less than glorious house thinking about how in the rolling hills of Neverland for many years this simple house stored such incredibly, priceless, one of a kind items all in one place belonging to our King of Pop, Rock, Soul and LOVE. According to the story there were so many awards that even the bathroom and kitchen held MJ’s awards. They weren’t just on a wall or in a room but every room in the house was filled with his awards. How many people on this planet could claim that? I sat riveted in my seat staring at the roof of this unassuming home and wondered where they all were now and sadness creeped in yet again. Then smiled as I couldn’t help but picture Michael pulling up to that simple house in his Bentley and jumping out like he was going to a neighbor’s to borrow sugar but instead dropping off another MTV award. Hee hee! Yes this was the place. It has been there along time now and the roof looks as if it needs replacing. This house was the only other possible large structure that lined up with the details of the story I had read.  Once again I thought “God bless your precious soul Michael.”

Again we took a closer look at the grounds and this time I noticed the Arcade. This was not far from the house and I laughed as I thought of Michael running over to play the games anytime of the day or night, his child like spirit free to be who he was in this wonderland. I remembered an interview where he said he loaded up some of his favorite pin ball games and flew them with him on tour. We flew over the railroad tracks and saw how they connected to the Railroad Station, Michael’s own Disneyland train station. A Neverland logo of the little boy sitting on the crescent moon was there just to the side of the train station beautifully maintained on the hillside. The barn where the trains were stored is there as well as all the Zoo structures, all beautifully maintained. Circling again we took another look at the lake and front house area, then flew on back to the front gates where we checked out the visiting fans. It was around about this time I thought the ride would be ending and we’d be on our way… then Dan shocked me by saying “Well did you see enough?” I responded with “Oh I really wanted to see The Giving Tree. It all went so fast I forgot to look for it.” So he said “Ok! Well let’s take a look” and turned the helicopter around and went BACK to Neverland!! We passed by a couple more times and I looked and looked but I could not figure out of all the trees there which was The Giving Tree and then suddenly I blinked and looked again and there it was in all it’s glory with the platform and all before my very eyes. Then it was gone. If you asked me to point out where I couldn’t, as it all happened so fast. Oh Dear Lord how much comfort and inspiration that blessed tree brought to Michael. Thank you God for a glimpse of that beautiful tree. The Giving Tree a monument For All Time to Michael’s incredible, spiritually inspired genius and artistic gift of music and LOVE. My trip was complete. My dream come true. 

Dan turned the helicopter back toward the quaint little airport in the Santa Ynez hills and as we flew off over and beyond the Neverland gates I felt Neverland tugging at my heart, pulling me back, beckoning me not to leave. I so did not want this flight to end. I thought about how incredibly painful and deeply heart wrenching it must have been for Michael to turn his back on his beloved Neverland and walk away. He had said in his home movies, “Neverland is the totality of me, the culmination of all that I am.” Then they robbed him of his beautiful home. I could see the sadness in Michael’s eyes as we flew towards the airport. It was mostly silent now in the cockpit, just the sound of the blades whirring above. I took in the incredibly beautiful horse ranches below and tried to assimilate all that I had just seen. Somehow though I will never be able to assimilate all the torture Michael Jackson was put through. For me this place, this oasis, this land of wonder should never have been taken from Michael and it will For All Time be Michael’s home, Michael’s Never-Neverland, a very spiritual place where so much joy, healing and good took place.

Before we knew it we had arrived back at the tidy, picturesque airport and Dan skillfully landed the helicopter smooth as butter. We were all smiles as we profusely thanked him for an amazing journey. What an awesome job you have Dan! Travis graciously helped us out while the next set of passengers eagerly waited to take our place. 

Nicky and Rachael will always have a special place in my heart because of this once in a lifetime mutually shared experience. We decided to drive on to the Neverland gates together. They followed along behind the lime green bullet for a visit at the gates by land. Then later in the week we met several more times and shared some amazingly touching moments including visiting Michael at Holly Terrace, Forest Lawn until closing… we will always Remember The Time. 

Thank you Dan, Sean and Travis from Channel Islands Helicopters for the most unforgettable, magnificent day of flight over Neverland…. just there the second star to the right and straight on till morning!!!   

Update 8/11/2015
For all those coming to Southern California and are interested in taking the Neverland Heli Flyover.... Channel Islands Heli is no longer in business. At this point in time there are no more flights with this company or any other heli companies in the Santa Ynez area. Sadly the June 2015 Neverland Flyovers were the last flights.

Side note:
** After writing this story I realized the sequence of flight returns over Neverland may not be in the precise order they took place; however the feeling and sights seen are as written and captured. It all happened so quickly. 

* If you intend to ever take this flight be sure to take a video camera for best results on pics. It has been rumored that Channel Islands Helicopters will possibly be doing flights over Neverland on Michael’s birthday in August, 2012.

A sign posted on the tree by an MJ fan at the Neverland front gates on June 25, 2011.

"Now to Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us... Unto Him be the glory." Ephesians 3: 20-21

Beautiful Video by Robyn Starkand. "Michael loved DeBussy's Claire de Lune and its perfect for the magic at Neverland...enjoy the journey....." ~ Robyn ~