Curiosity leads Columbiana woman to Neverland

Published 8:58 am Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sonya Lefkovits has never been a fan of Michael Jackson’s music, but curiosity compelled the Columbiana native to visit the fabled Neverland Ranch, the pop icon’s former home.

While visiting family in Santa Barbara County, Calif., Lefkovits, 86, learned of Jackson’s death and drove to Neverland last week.

“A part of my family lives pretty close to the ranch, and it was a spur of the moment thing,” she said. “It’s on a little two-lane road, and there were media trucks of any kind you wanted and from anywhere you wanted for a mile and a half on each side of the road.”

Once reaching the Neverland gates, Lefkovits had her photo taken in front of the entrance. She also talked to local reporters about being there.

“We just wondered what was going on up there,” she said. “We were there just a couple hours before they closed the road.”

Lefkovits had suspected pandemonium to engulf Neverland during her visit, but was surprised to find mourners respectfully grieving Jackson’s loss.

“I was amazed that there was absolutely no chaos at all,” she said. “It was very calm and very quiet.”

Media reports claimed a public memorial service for Jackson would be held at Neverland July 3, but those reports proved to be false. The memorial will be held Tuesday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. More than 17,000 free tickets were randomly awarded to fans on Sunday, however, 1.6 million people registered for tickets over the weekend.

Though Lefkovits never took a liking to Jackson’s hit songs like “Thriller” or “Billie Jean,” she appreciated his showmanship on the world stage.

“I was not a fan of his music, but I was a fan of his talent,” she said. “In his lifetime he became such an icon, and it’s a shame he had his problems.”