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COVID Ribbon Memorial set to visit Largo

The traveling exhibit, created by an Anna Maria Island woman, is designed to recognize the deaths of Floridians during the coronavirus pandemic.
Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

LARGO, Fla. — Beginning June 24, people all around the Pinellas County area will have the opportunity to remember and respect the lives that were lost to COVID-19 in a unique way.

The COVID Ribbon Memorial was a project started by Cathy Tobias, a photographer and visual artist. According to a Creative Pinellas press release, she created the project to "honor in a visual way the lives lost and offer people a way to remember, mourn, and heal together in their communities."  

It first started in November 2020 when the number of COVID deaths hit 16,000. With the help of her sister and a group of volunteers, Tobias hand tied ribbons onto a strong twine. Each ribbon represents one person who has died in Florida. 

“Deeply saddened and overwhelmed by the rising death toll, I wanted to create something meaningful,” Tobias told Creative Pinellas. “My head, my heart and my soul desired to create something that was tangible and dimensionally interactive for the viewers. The story, reality and magnitude of the lost lives needed a voice.”

Now, with the help of many others, the memorial has 37,400 ribbons according to Creative Pinellas, and it spans the length of three football fields.

Creative Pinellas will be the third location to host the installation in Florida. The moving exhibit had its debut appearance on Anna Maria Island and was also on display at the Morean Center for Clay in St. Petersburg. 

At 6 p.m. on its opening day, participants will be given markers to write the names of loved ones on the ribbons. They are also invited to bring a small, laminated photo to hang among the ribbon.

It will be located in the courtyard outside of Creative Pinellas in Largo until Sept. 19, 2021. 

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