ANNA MARIA, Fla. — At first glance, it looks like this Anna Maria Island home is decorated for a celebration, but the colorful ribbons strung across the yard have a much more emotional significance.
When the number of Florida COVID-19 deaths rose to 16,000 a few months ago, Cathy Tobias says she knew she had to do something.
"I wanted to do something to mark it, like how do you grasp it?" said Tobias, an Anna Maria Island resident.
So she started tying ribbons to a string for each life lost. Now the number has grown to more than 28,000.
Cathy had a lot of tying to do so people offered to help, including neighbor Lucy Kanson.
"It was kind of good therapy for me to do it and I kind of had that 'ah-ha' moment where you’re like 'Whoah, this isn’t just an isolated number, these are people’s lives,'" said Tobias.
Some of the ribbons have names written on them of people who have died from COVID. Currently, the memorial stretches the length of 2.5 football fields. Tobias says the purpose is to put the number of lives lost into perspective.
"It's tangible. You can see it and know that each ribbon is one life lost," said Tobias.
On Tuesday, February 16, volunteers will hold the memorial, stretching it down the beach of Anna Maria Island to honor those who have died.