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Jackson family in Gary to mark pop star's birthday

Associated Press Modified: August 29, 2012 at 10:15 pm •  Published: August 29, 2012

GARY, Ind. (AP) — The scene outside the childhood home of Michael Jackson resembled a party as fans joined members of the pop star's family for a vigil Wednesday, which would have been his 54th birthday.

Fans danced to Jackson's music prior to the arrival of his children and mother at the house at 2300 Jackson St., where the King of Pop, his siblings and their parents lived until 1969. In the days after Jackson's death in 2009, the singer's admirers piled stuffed animals, flowers and photos outside the tiny home in Gary.

Among those at the Wednesday night vigil was Andrei Tejada, 32, a Chicago veterinary technician student who said she was pleased that Jackson's relatives were attending the event.

"They still remember where they started, and it shows they appreciate where they started. It's a humbling experience to know they are here," said Tejada, who said she visits the Jackson childhood home once a month.

Other events planned by the family in Gary include a dinner Friday and a concert Saturday.

Before the vigil, Jackson's children, 14-year-old Paris and 15-year-old Prince Michael, were given blue "Team Gary" T-shirts by Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson as they posed for pictures at a casino overlooking Lake Michigan.

"We just want you to know how much he meant to us and the city of Gary," the mayor said.

Paris and Prince Michael didn't speak during the brief presentation. Later, in the moments before the vigil was to start, the two, joined by Jackson's other child, Prince Michael II, signed autographs outside the Jackson home. A large crowd formed around them, with fans shoving books and posters in the teens' faces.

Jackson's sister LaToya told the crowd the family's musical fame started in the city, east of Chicago, and in "this little house." After saying, "We all love you, Michael," LaToya folded her hands and looked to the sky.

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