The Magic of Michael Jackson’s Memorial Tree in Budapest, Hungary
When I heard there was a Michael Jackson Memorial Tree in Budapest, I was curious to see where it was and what it looked like in person. After figuring out which subway to take, I made my way up the stairs and as I came out into the bright sun, I was in the heart of the pedestrian district in the city’s Pest side. I found this happy tree is just a stone’s throw from the Metro and quite close to the Danube River. I simply love how inspiringly analog this tribute is.
I found my way to the Kempinksi Hotel and directly across the street from it, I saw the shrine to Michael Jackson. I also saw a woman kneeled over, who was pulling out dead plants and tending to the flowers. We briefly chatted and she told me she begins her day by coming to the tree, to keep it beautiful. When I returned later in the day, seeking early evening light, I spoke to two fans sitting on a bench. No matter where I am in the world, I am never alone. It’s nice to connect with people in another country about Michael.
When Michael was touring in Budapest, he stayed at the established Kempinski Hotel. His first visit was in 1994, when shooting a short feature on Heroes’ Square. He returned in 1996 twice. The first stay was to examine the venue of his upcoming concert for the History tour — Budapest was going to be his second stop. After scouting, he gave a performance in what was then the People’s Stadium (now the Ferenc Puskás Stadium).
His fans would gather in a park directly across the street from the hotel, just to try to get a glimpse of him. Michael would often stand by the window, look out, wave and send messages to his fans, whom he always loved and respected. After he died on June 25, 2009, a tree on the corner of the park was named and dedicated to him. His beloved fans began to decorate it.
I noticed this ordinary tree with pictures, tributes, and handwritten notes all affixed to the trunk along with candles and flowers adorned the base. In the 1980’s there was so much oppression in Hungary behind the Iron Curtain. This was the same time that Michael was becoming more famous than ever — his music inspiring the people. When he returned in the 90’s it must have been such a thrill to see this expressive, passionate artist in person during his concert. I have always loved the passion from Michael Jackson’s fans. How beautiful someone loved him enough to start this dedication of L.O.V.E. and the tradition has continued with this well kept memorial tree. Michael was a storyteller, expressing himself through his music. It’s apparent his music resonated in the hearts and souls of people all around the globe, no matter where I travel. His fans in Hungary meet in the park and flash dance to one of Michael’s dances every year on his birthday. Traveling around the globe and creating special moments I love like this tree, makes me smile from deep in my heart. There is something comforting about finding a tree dedicated to Michael, clear across the Atlantic Ocean, so far from my home in Los Angeles.