Gary honors Jackson on anniversary of his death

June 25, 2011 (GARY, Ind.)

Two years ago, the world famous pop star suffered a heart attack at his Los Angeles home and died hours later. His death was blamed partly on an injection of a sedative Propofol.

On Saturday, fans gathered at his boyhood home in Gary, Ind., for a vigil and celebration of the singer's life and career.

"I'm like five years older than him so I grew up with him. And all I got to say is we miss him so much and we love him. But he's going to live on forever," said Gary resident Debra Freeman.

"I grew up with Michael Jackson, you know? I am very sad that he had to leave, you know, it was heartbreaking. But it's a happy day. He will always be here with me, he will always be in my heart," said Gary resident David Trout, Sr.

The city of Gary hopes to make the June 25 tribute to Jackson an annual event.

"We have been blasting his music all day, all the way from his home. It was the place to be," said Michael Jackson fan Denise Robinson.

The last gathering, one year ago, was attended by the singer's mother Katherine Jackson. "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, and the friends and the loved ones, we couldn't have made it through," she said.

Though the King of Pop was only boy when the Jackson family left Gary for California, he returned in 2003, receiving a key to the city and visiting his boyhood home.

"Gary, you are more than a good friend. You are my family and always will be. I love you very much," Jackson said.

Since the singer's death, Gary officials have been working to secure funding for a proposed $300 million hotel and entertainment complex in Jackson's name.

"I wish it was further along than it was, than it is rather, and we're just depending sort of with the people in Las Vegas now to put that all together, but they've been doing some work on the feasibility studies and all that," said Gary Mayor Rudy Clay.

"What we really want to do is try to help build up the city of Gary. And that's going to take me, you, and everyone," said the singer's cousin Ron Jackson.

The event wrapped up Saturday evening with a candlelight vigil.

Jackson's parents and siblings were not at the event Saturday night, though cousins and other relatives of the singer still live in Gary, and they were in attendance.

The singer's mother recently refurbished the home in Gary. It remains in the family.

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