Sunday, December 8, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 40
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Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on November 26th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 39 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 20, Issue 39

Being one out of an estimated 250 at this month's candlelight vigil for Kristin Smart

By CALEB WISEBLOOD

Saturday, Nov. 16, 7:31 p.m.—“Wear purple if you have it tomorrow,” reads a text from one of my best friends. The following afternoon, I put on my striped burgundy T-shirt—the closest thing I own to purple—and await the anticipated “we’re here!” text from the group chat. 


Stay updated
Visit the Find Kristin Smart Facebook page to learn about future events hosted by the group. For more info on Your Own Backyard, visit yourownbackyardpodcast.com.

A FACE ON A BILLBOARD
Attendees of the Kristin Smart candlelight vigil in Arroyo Grande show their support with picket signs, shirts, hats, and other items.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ALEXANDRA WALLACE

It’s nice of my friends to pick me up in theory, but in the grand scheme of things (considering my recent, halfhearted attempt to live a healthier lifestyle), it would have been kinder of them to force me to walk. Afterall, our destination—the East Branch Street gazebo behind Rooster Creek Tavern—is only half a mile away from my home in the Village of Arroyo Grande. 

I’m still not used to telling people I live there, having moved just a few months ago from Santa Maria. I don’t care if this sounds like a convenient attention grabber: While attending the Kristin Smart vigil on Sunday, Nov. 17, I found myself for the first time claiming the Village as my home during conversation. I’m already proud to live here, but I’ve continually used my stock answer of “Santa Maria” when new faces ask where I’m coming from. 

As soon as we get to the gazebo, my burgundy body almost disappears into a pool of purple people. Purple was Smart’s favorite color. 


HUNDREDS
An estimated crowd of 250 people proceed from the East Branch Street gazebo to a private home down the street. The residence is owned by a relative of a person of interest in the Kristin Smart case.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ALEXANDRA WALLACE

The vigil was organized by members of the Facebook group Find Kristin Smart, who were inspired to host a vigil based on the release of Your Own Backyard, a locally produced podcast that investigates Smart’s disappearance in 1996. 

Listening to the series was my first foray into true-crime podcasts, and I’m guessing other listeners in attendance at the vigil are just as riled up about the case as I am—at least on the inside; this is a peaceful vigil. As tragic and heart-wrenching as the Smart story is, it’s above all insanely infuriating. We want justice. We want retribution. We wanna see the bad guys get what they deserve. 

As of now, and as it has been for the last 23 years, it hasn’t been proven who’s responsible for Smart’s disappearance. But as the group of an estimated 250 attendees proceeds from the gazebo down East Branch Street, the communal distaste for the house we approach is palpable. An estimated crowd of 250 people proceed from the East Branch Street gazebo to a private home down the street. The residence is owned by a relative of a person of interest in the case. 


BOUNDARIES
There’s a chain with a “no trespassing” sign blocking the stoop in front of the house, but I don’t see anyone attempt to pass it.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ALEXANDRA WALLACE

Members of the crowd closest to the front light each other’s candles and the process continues until it reaches the back. There’s a chain with a “no trespassing” sign blocking the stoop in front of the house, but I don’t see anyone attempt to pass it. 

More than an hour passes, and the only instance of aggression I notice comes from a car driving by to spectate the gathering. Someone rolls down their window and yells toward the house something along the lines of, “Bring Kristin home, you bitches!” Seconds later, one of the event’s organizers calmly suggests it’s time to go. The vigil concludes shortly thereafter. 

That was it. No cops, no arrests. It was a peaceful ceremony. The bottom-line takeaway of the event is summed up on one attendee’s sign: “Kristin Smart, you will never be forgotten.” 

Contact Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood at cwiseblood@santamariasun.com




Weekly Poll
Guadalupe is in the midst of new development, but is that a good thing?

No. The new homes will expand the town too much and run the small-town vibe.
No. Commercial development will follow and destroy all the local businesses.
Yes. The town can't survive another economic downturn without more business and residents in town.
Yes, but the town has to steer development toward tourism and the hospitality industry.

| Poll Results