‘Temporary’ Garlic Festival memorial becomes permanent

Christmas Hill Park fixture constructed in 2019

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A memorial to the victims of the 2019 Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting stands at Christmas Hill Park. Photo: Erik Chalhoub

A memorial to the victims of the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting in 2019 will now be considered permanent.

The memorial, designed by Gilroy landscape architect Karen Aitken and completed in September 2019, was originally intended as a temporary quiet space for Christmas Hill Park visitors to reflect on the tragedy. Gilroy City Council members informally agreed during that time that a more permanent memorial would be constructed in the near future.

But more than a year has passed, and no organized effort has been made to replace the memorial, City Administrator Jimmy Forbis said, adding that many community members are no longer referring to it as temporary.

The Gilroy City Council on Oct. 19 agreed to remove the “temporary” designation for the memorial.

The memorial is located on the ranch side of the park where the shooting took place, close to the Uvas Creek trail. Where two concrete paths intersect, there is a large palm tree that has three flag-laden ropes attached to it.

At the base of the palm tree are three large boulders, which symbolize the three young people who were killed: Stephen Romero, 6; Keyla Salazar, 13; and Trevor Irby, 25. 

Forbis said crews will soon remove the weathered flags and trim the browning leaves from the tree as part of maintenance work.

“We understand this is a significant location for our residents and for anyone who was there that day and the days after,” he said. “We are very sensitive and want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to ensure the ongoing maintenance of this memorial, and to make sure it looks its best as it does provide a place of solace for so many people.”

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