GARY – Michael Jackson's mother watched from her family's humble former home in Gary as fans and performers paid homage to her son on what would have been the late pop star's 55th birthday.
Katherine Jackson was one of the Jacksons who gathered at the house Thursday as fans began a celebration of the singer in the northwest Indiana city where the Jacksons lived before they became Motown record stars when Michael Jackson was a child.
Among Thursday's parade of well-wishers was Mary Singer of St. Petersburg, Fla. She told The Post-Tribune she became a fan of the performer of such hits as “Thriller” and “Billie Jean” when she lived a few blocks from the Motown recording studio in Detroit.
“I remember seeing the whole family go into Motown Records one day,” she said. “I've loved them ever since.”
Carmen Rodriguez of Schertz, Texas, took a plane to Detroit and drove to Gary to attend the weekend-long celebration of her favorite singer.
“I still cry when I hear his music,” Rodriguez said.
Eleven-year-old Angel Diaz of El Paso, Texas, has performed as a Jackson impersonator for years. He said he began to watch Jackson's music videos and mimic his moves when his mother told him of Jackson's death.
“My grandpa showed me 'Thriller,' and I was watching and started to dance. I practiced every day,” Diaz said.
Jackson died June 25, 2009.