Gary, Ind., mourns native son Michael Jackson

Gary's 'hearts are full of tears' for Jackson
June 26, 2009 (GARY, Ind.) Michael Jackson often said that through his music he hoped to bring people of all backgrounds together. And he certainly did that in life and in death.

At the former Jackson family home in Gary crowds have been gathering since Thursday. Many wanted to see where Michael Jackson grew up and take a picture or two. Others came to share memories of that little boy they once knew.

"The first thing you always wanted to do was kiss him because he was always so shy. He was always the shy one in the group and he was always so humble," said Irma Lardydell, former singer.

Irma Lardydell and Mary Rogers Lacy performed on the same stage as the Jackson 5 many times in the mid 1960's.

"It was mesmerizing how he performed," said Mary Rogers Lacy, former singer.

Another person who brought a wreath to the home was Gordon Keith, the man who first signed the Jackson 5 to a recording contract.

"Michael had great voice control and he sang, he really sang like a little grown man. And when he danced, it was all over then. Never seen anybody dance as well as Michael, then nor since. And I mean he was better than James Brown, Jackie Wilson, and ballet dancers. Michael had it all," said Keith.

Others who gathered were just fans of the pop icon.

"I'm a massive Michael Jackson fan and it's so sad," said Caroline Jones.

"He was a miracle walking amongst us. I feel like a part of me died when he left us. He lives on through all of us. Just look around today," said Brent Nelson, Michael Jackson fan.

Mayor Rudy Clay of Gary says he's been reaching out to Joe Jackson, Michael's father, to bring the funeral to Gary but admits it's a long shot. He says if he's not successful he would like to have a simultaneous service in the city.

The mayor has declared the city is in mourning. He is hoping Jackson's childhood home will be turned into a museum.

A homecoming for Michael Jackson was held in Gary six years ago, and the marquee of the theater where the event was held remembered the Jackson 5 still Friday.

The mayor of Gary credits Jackson for putting the city on the map.

"A person from Gary left Gary, to go anywhere in the world, and they mentioned they're from Gary, Indiana, [and] the first thing that came out of the other person's mouth was, 'That's the home of Michael Jackson,' and it made you feel good and proud," Mayor Clay.

According to Clay, the name of Joe Jackson, Michael Jackson's father, is still on the deed of the house. Joe Jackson is said to have wanted to move the home on top of a Michael Jackson museum.

There will be a public memorial for Michael Jackson this weekend in Chicago.

Sweet Holy Spirit Church at 8621 South Chicago Avenue will welcome fans to remember the music legend Sunday morning at 11:30.

People are asked to bring candles which will be lit in Jackson's honor.

Bishop Larry Trotter will lead the service.

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