BRADENTON, Fla. - People around the world are creating their own personal tributes to Gabby Petito. For many, it's a way to process her story and find peace in a heartbreaking situation.
Hunsader Farms in Manatee County decided to dedicate their 7-acre fall corn maze to Gabby. They not only hope it brings peace to those who visit, they hope the sight also brings a little peace to Gabby's family.
Gabby Petito @petitojoseph/Instagram
Miles from the noise and disconnected from the commotion, all you can hear are stalks gently rustling in the breeze. Each fall, this field sprouts into a sprawling corn maze for thousands to roam during Hunsader Farms' Pumpkin Festival.
Over the years, its paths have created all sorts of designs with messages celebrating American farmers, remembering lost loved ones, and paying tribute to our beloved "Snooty" the manatee.
Like so many, Rachel Hunsader Sliker and her family felt a deep connection to the search for Gabby Petito and soon, heavy hearts from the devastating outcome.
"Just hoping and praying she'd be found okay," Hunsader Sliker said. "It was really hard. We just wanted to do something, not only for her but how this led to other missing persons being found. We thought that was important, too."
She suggested, why not dedicate this year's maze to Gabby? A few days later, her dad fired up the mower.
"And he was like, I just free mowed it and I did 'RIP Gabby, I had to do it'," Hunsader Sliker recalled.
With eight letters, a cross, and a heart, this field transformed into a living, swaying, growing memorial. Its winding trails are not just for exploration, but also reflection.
"If people come out here in the corn maze and know what it says and know what it's for, hopefully, they can go through and find some kind of peace," Hunsader Sliker said.
The tribute, so far, is getting a lot of attention. The Hunsaders hope it reaches Gabby's family, reminding them she won't be forgotten.
"And that they can see that everyone's praying for them and is there for them," Hunsader Sliker said.
If you'd like to walk the corn maze in person, you can head to the Pumpkin Festival this weekend and next weekend at Hunsader Farms from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They're located at 5500 County Road 675 in Bradenton. You can find more information at https://www.hunsaderfarms.com/.
(Courtesy: Hunsader Farms)
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