Fate of items at statue unclear

In the days since James Brown's death, his bronze statue on Broad Street has become the place where family, friends and fans have come to pay their respects.


Flowers, flags, candles, posters and photographs cover the base of the statue.

What's yet to be determined is what to do with it all, and whatever is left there in the future.

Michael Greene, the director of the Public Services department for the city, said last week that the city had no plans to remove anything until after the funeral.

"I've got people going by picking up trash and making sure there is nothing hazardous there, but as far as flowers and other things, we're not going to do anything with that out of respect to Mr. Brown until later," Mr. Greene said.

Assistant Recreation Director Robert Howard will meet with the family after the funeral to determine what they would prefer, he said.

Dennis Stroud, the assistant director of roads and bridges, said he assumes that in the months and years to come, the responsibility of cleaning up around the statue will fall back on his department, but that no one has discussed the matter with him yet.

If that happens, he said, it's possible the cards, candles and other items left at the site will be kept somewhere for safekeeping.

"I'm sure we'll do something with them, but it's too premature to tell," Mr. Stroud said.

Around the world, fans regularly visit celebrity memorials and grave sites, and what's done with the items they leave behind depends on the situation.

At the Macon, Ga., grave sites of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley, two of the founding members of the Allman Brothers Band, family members are responsible for removing all items left on the grounds, cemetery specialist Delores Mitchell said.

At the Strawberry Fields memorial for John Lennon in New York City's Central Park, items other than flowers are put into the park's lost and found for up to a year before they're thrown away, Central Park Conservancy spokeswoman Amelia Alonso said.

Elvis Presley, on the other hand, has his own archive department where photographs, drawings and other objects left by fans at his grave site in the Meditation Garden at Graceland in Memphis, Tenn., get put for preservation, Elvis Enterprises spokesman Kevin Kern said.

"On a daily basis we have to go through there and pick things up," Mr. Kern said. "On the anniversary of Elvis' death, the memorials that are left become overwhelming. They actually line the entire sidewalk."

Reach Lindsay Wilkes-Edrington at t.lindsay.wilkesedri@morris.com.