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Michael Jackson Party Canceled

Santa Barbara County Officials Intervene to Shut Down Chamberlin Ranch Celebration


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Santa Barbara County authorities have successfully stopped the “spontaneously” planned party that was to celebrate Michael Jackson’s life this weekend at a ranch across the road from Neverland in the Santa Ynez Valley.

According to a press release from Releve Unlimited, the destination management company promoting and hosting the event on the Chamberlin Ranch, “county officials took a stand threatening closure and arrest of those involved stating that there was not ample time to secure the required permits and that the event was ‘a draw on their resources’.” That reflects an earlier statement by Stephanie Langsdorf, representative for 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr, who told The Independent on Wednesday that “[County CEO] Mike Brown and Sheriff Bill Brown are both working to make sure this event does not happen.” Langsdorf also said that her office knew of no communication between the Chamberlin Ranch-which is owned by Fred Chamberlin, brother of Willy Chamberlin, a former 3rd District county supervisor-and the correct county officials.

The Releve press release, however, asserts that the company’s president, Diane Dennell, had met with members of the Sheriff’s Department and California Highway Patrol on Tuesday, June 30, and those talks showed support for a “safe and controlled event for the tens of thousands of fans of Michael Jackson anticipated to come to Neverland to celebrate the King of Pop’s iconic life and his untimely death.” The company was also already working with vendors and, they claim, “county permitting authorities” to get the paperwork done.

But the County of Santa Barbara, which has already voiced concerns about everything from traffic congestion to wildfire potential from such a large gathering, quashed the plans. What will happen to the Michael Jackson fans who are already in town or on their way? At the moment, no one seems to know.

In the meantime, the leading rumor is that there will be an official memorial service for Jackson, who died of a heart attack last week at age 50, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday. But as usual, there’s no official confirmation of that from the family.

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