GARY — Michael Jackson's Indiana hometown is gearing up for a weeklong celebration of its most famous son that's expected to draw Jackson family matriarch Katherine Jackson and her late son's three children.
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said at a Friday news conference outlining the upcoming events that she looks forward to meeting Katherine Jackson and Michael's children, Prince, 15, Paris, 14 and Blanket, 10.
"Mrs. Jackson loves the city of Gary and wants to reach out to the city. And we appreciate her for taking the lead and bringing all of these wonderful events to our city," she said.
Jackson family representative Jerry Olivarez said Katherine Jackson's visit will be her first appearance in Gary as part of the northwestern Indiana city's annual celebration of her famous son. This is the third year Gary has hosted a tribute for Jackson, who died on June 25, 2009.
The Times of Munster reported (http://bit.ly/TM78Mq ) Saturday that Gary's Jackson salute will begin Aug. 29 with a candlelight tribute at the Jackson family's former home on what would have been the singer's 54th birthday.
The Jackson children will be the guests of honor Aug. 30 at the Gary South Shore RailCats baseball team's special tribute night.
That game will feature a musical tribute by the Gratitude Project, a ceremonial ball toss, a team uniform presentation, a video presentation and a moment of remembrance.
Gary's mayor, Freeman-Wilson, will host a tribute dinner reception on Aug. 31 honoring Katherine Jackson at the Majestic Star Pavilion. The event will feature a musical tribute by the Gratitude Project.
The Jackson events will also include a Sept. 1 "Michael Jackson Tribute Concert" featuring a musical salute to him at West Side High School.
The Jackson family moved from Gary to California in 1969 after the Jackson 5 struck it big with the release of their first album. Aside from two concerts the Jackson 5 played at West Side High School in 1971, the only time Michael Jackson returned to his hometown was in 2003.