Michael Jackson's mother, Katherine Jackson, and other relatives helped to unveil a granite monument constructed in the front yard of the family home.
"This last year has been a very hard time for us, for the whole family and if it wasn't for you all, the fans, the friends, and the loved ones, we couldn't have made it through," said Katherine Jackson.
Gary mayor Rudy Clay says every June 25 will be MJ memorial day in his city. All the energy seen Friday creates momentum for his proposed $300 million arts, hotel and entertainment complex in the favorite son's name.
"I say this to the haters: just beat it," said Clay.
The 900 square foot home bought in 1941 was refurbished by the singer's mother who was on hand for the festivities.
Neighbors remembered the family's ambition.
"We used to pay a quarter to see them practice in their garage and listen to them play music," said one Gary resident at the house Friday. "We knew they knew they were going to be somebody special."
"He beat us on the talent shows...he was a prodigy," said neighbor Lawrence Crawford.
Fifty years later, Jackson's influence has not waned. In the year since his death, Michael Jackson's records have brought in $1 billion to his estate, according to Billboard magazine.
For the fans Friday, it's was all about a universal appeal.
"We are having a party out here," said Angela Burnham.
"It's good for the community, for Gary. Finally we get a chance to recognize the greatness that can come from a place like this," said William Salaam, vendor.