A single mother in Alabama sent a dozen yellow roses to prosecutor Marcia Clark, with a note telling her to “hang in there.” A woman in Pennsylvania ordered a large mixed arrangement of flowers for Los Angeles Police Detective Mark Fuhrman. And a fan in Illinois sent a $300 bouquet--an arrangement so big it took two men to deliver the order--to prosecutor Christopher A. Darden.
In gestures that are turning the O.J. Simpson courtroom into the most colorful one in memory, admirers from around the country have been flooding the judge, lawyers and even witnesses with showy flower displays. The arrangements--which began arriving in droves since defense witness Rosa Lopez received numerous bouquets last week--have become familiar sights to the millions watching the court proceedings on television.
At least a half-dozen arrangements now arrive at the courthouse daily, many containing heartfelt messages reflecting the deep emotions the trial is generating among viewers.
When Darden was cited for contempt of court two weeks ago, fans began calling area flower shops immediately, ordering the largest arrangements available as a show of support. And when reports surfaced last week that Clark’s estranged husband had requested primary custody of their two children, women from around the country sent the prosecutor dozens of roses.
“I don’t have $60 to throw away, believe me, I’m not rich,” Liz Troglin, a Huntsville, Ala., nurse who sent the yellow rose bouquet to Clark on Wednesday, said in a telephone interview. “But if we all just took the time to tell someone, ‘hang in there,’ this would be a better country.”
Yet there’s sometimes a darker motivation at play: the thrill of seeing the flowers you sent on national TV. On Wednesday, a Denver radio station got into the act, sending an arrangement of irises and lilies (addressed to both squads of attorneys) in an attempt to claim on-air bragging rights.
“They wanted us to deliver it by 9 a.m., so the flowers could be in the courtroom before the trial started,” said Johnny Wong, the owner of California Floral Co., located just a block away from the courthouse.
Glory-seekers aside, senders mostly want to voice words of support to people for whom they’ve developed a sense of kinship and admiration, said Jesse Alfaro, who arranges flowers for California Floral.
The cards carry common themes: “People say things like, ‘We’re proud of you,’ ‘Keep going,’ or ‘You’re doing a good job,’ ” Alfaro said.
On Wednesday, the 1st Street florist was filling five orders for the case’s primary players. As usual, Marcia Clark’s fans accounted for most of the requests (with three orders). However, one of Simpson’s friends, who asked to remain unnamed, stopped by in a limo and ordered three dozen silk roses--at a cost of $280--for the former football star.
Troglin said she chose yellow roses for Clark because they signify “hope and devotion.”
“Like everyone else, I’ve been watching the trial and I just felt like she was doing an outstanding job,” said Troglin, a working mother who raised her children by herself. “But it never even entered my mind to send her flowers until I heard about the custody battle. I’ve been there. It’s not fair.”
Clark usually tries to acknowledge every bouquet she receives. Her secretary routinely calls the florists to find out the identity of the senders.
“She is very appreciative and touched,” said Suzanne Childs, director of communications for the district attorney’s office. The prosecutor usually gets about a half-dozen bouquets a day, Childs said. Starting this week, Clark will be donating the flowers to Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.
Employees at Conroy’s Flowers in Beverly Hills estimate that they’ve delivered at least 20 arrangements--including two dozen peach roses for Clark--since the trial started.
While many of the bouquets have been modest, some senders have requested the flashiest displays available.
“The idea is, the more elaborate, the better,” said Conroy’s assistant manager, who asked to be identified only as Terry. “They are hoping that maybe, by chance, they can see their arrangement on television. It’s their way of getting some kind of connection with the case.”
Employees of the Giddings Corp., a Newport Beach architectural firm, sent a large arrangement of white lilies to the courtroom last week.
Jessica Kim, the company’s financial officer, said she and her co-workers were impressed with Superior Court Judge Lance A. Ito’s decision to videotape testimony of defense witness Lopez outside the jury’s presence, rather than interrupting the sequence in which the prosecution was presenting its case. They decided to send the judge flowers.
Their card read: “Congratulations on your excellent decision on Rosa Lopez,” the housekeeper who testified that she saw Simpson’s Bronco outside his estate the night of the killings. Kim said the Giddings workers were thrilled to see their arrangement, which sat for days on the court clerk’s desk, on television. They were even more excited to receive a signed thank-you note from Ito acknowledging the flowers, Kim said.
“We might do it again,” she added.
On Tuesday, Genee I. Smith of Wernersville, Pa., ordered a $70 arrangement for Fuhrman, the embattled detective who is expected to take the stand today.
She said she wanted to send a patriotic display, with red and white flowers and a blue bow, but the florist ended up sending an arrangement of all white flowers.
“I don’t even know Mark Fuhrman,” Smith said. “I just think he has been treated unfairly. All the police have been put on trial.”
Smith, who watches the proceedings on television every day, said she spent $120 on two dozen red roses for Clark last week, in the wake of her custody woes.
“They (critics of police and of Clark) are just dragging these people through the mud,” she said. “I just want them to know they are supported by other people.”