I read this comment on Berkeleyside this afternoon from the father of Zachary Cruz, the little boy I knit this memorial for. I was very grateful to know more of this boy and his family, and especially to know that his family got something from the memorial. I was concerned they might not approve. Little kids always notice street art more than anyone, I always feel like even if no one else notices at least children approve.
Memorial to 5-year old revived
After the one-year anniversary of the death of five-year old Zachary Michael Cruz, who was hit by a car while crossing Warring Street at Derby in February 2009, the impromptu memorial to him went moribund.
During the year leading up to the anniversary, family members and friends had been placing bouquets, balloons, toys, and photos at a stop sign at that corner. It was a touching reminder of a life cut short, and served as a warning for motorists to slow down.
But after February 27, 2010, very few new decorations were placed around the stop sign. The flowers sitting in vases at the bottom of the sign shriveled, and the plastic flowers affixed to the top faded.
However, thanks to a new guerilla art installation, the stop sign memorial has become vibrant once again.
The yarn bomber who calls herself Streetcolor has decorated the stop sign with a multi-hued wrap. Her addition prompted others to add some decorations, including a number of sugar skulls used in Halloween and Day of the Dead celebration.
“Sabrina K. wrote us and asked us if we could please bring some color to this pole on the corner of Derby and Warring,” Streetcolor wrote on her blog. “It has been used for a memorial for a 5-year-old boy. We have had some other requests for poles that I had shuffled around and not gotten to, but I immediately wanted to do this one.”
“I had knitted a simple piece with lots of color which I thought would be supportive and warm. It had stopped raining and the light was low and golden and clear as we have here in the Bay Area in the fall. The pole had jars of old water and dried flowers and silk flowers in a wreath on the top. It was very relaxing to have cars rhythmically stopping at the stop sign and some people rolled down their windows and encouraged us. I think the knitting looks comforting on the pole and encouraging of life.”
Viva yarn bombers
Frank Cruz says:
Thank you so much for taking time to write about the intersection at Derby and Warring, where my son Zachary was killed on February 27th, 2009. And thank you from the bottom of my heart to Sabrina K. and Streetcolor. My wife is a crafter herself, and we saw some of her work elsewhere in Berkeley; we even took pictures on Bancroft, having no idea that loving and supportive members of the community had again taken action to honor our son’s spirit at Derby and Warring.
I visited the intersection just yesterday, to add to the ofrenda there, which was started by some of our close friends in the neighborhood. When I arrived with sugar skulls, toy cars, a photo, Zach’s favorite candy, pan de muerto, an unlit candle, and flowers, I was moved to discover that an unnamed artist had honored this spot with her work. I didn’t know her name at the time, but now I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. I know your work would have pleased my son a great deal.
My family and I visited the site of our first-born son’s death at least once a month during the first 12 months after Zachary’s passing. We would bring toys, flowers, and photos, usually on the 27th of each month in Zachary’s honor. For me, it was a way to show him we weren’t going to forget him. We buried our son in our hometown of Ventura, CA, so it was hard living in the East Bay and not having the option of visiting him when we needed to because of the distance (it’s still hard). So Derby and Warring became the place we went when we needed to grieve in connection to a specific place. That site has become holy to us. The only reason we don’t visit more is because we moved to Oakland after the accident and because there are times when it’s very hard to face the reality of what happened there…
And although you are right to point out we have decorated Derby and Warring less often this year, we haven’t forgotten about Zachary. We started a pedestrian safety and educational philanthropy non-profit organization this year, a new way to honor his memory and help others at the same time. It’s called the Zachary Michael Cruz Foundation and we hope you’ll visit our website and read about our work, which was originally inspired by the kind of love and kindness demonstrated by Streetcolor’s work at the intersection. Our site is http://www.zmcfoundation.org.
The memorial to Zachary is thriving again, because of the recent festival of Dia de los Muertos. Please take a look and feel free to post some new photographs if your readers might be interested in seeing the site now, revived, colorful, and again alive in tribute to my beautiful boy. We will certainly decorate again for the holidays, for the 2nd year anniversary of his death, and for his birthday on March 12, 2011. Zachary would have been 8 next year. I miss him everyday. I hope to honor his memory with our work in his name on pedestrian safety in the Bay Area.