The childhood hometown of Michael Jackson is planning a tribute Friday at his former house to mark the one-year anniversary of his death, and the mayor says his mother is among the people expected to attend.
Gary Mayor Rudy Clay says Katherine Jackson will attend the event along with her granddaughter, Genevieve Jackson, the daughter of Randy Jackson. The event will include speeches, performances and a candlelight vigil.
"We expect thousands to show up," said city spokeswoman LaLosa Burns.
Workers at the house on Tuesday said Katherine Jackson wanted the house spruced up for the event. She was in the city 30 miles southeast of Chicago for several days recently and planned the renovation, Clay said.
The flowers, balloons, stuffed animals and signs that covered the front lawn for weeks after Jackson's death from an overdose of sedatives are gone. The tiny house already has a new roof, a fresh coat of white paint, newly poured concrete along the walkway and driveway and is surrounded by a black wrought iron fence. New sod was being installed and some bushes were awaiting planting.
"She wanted all of this done," worker Nathaniel Donald said. "People from all over the world come here and she wanted it fixed up."
"It looks nice," said Arthur Houser, an 81-year-old retired trucker who lives several blocks away.
The house — and its address — are widely known because The Jacksons released the album "2300 Jackson Street" in 1989.
The family moved to the West Coast after the Jackson 5 struck it big with the release of their first album. The Jackson 5 played two concerts at West Side High School in Gary in 1971. The only other time Jackson returned to his hometown was in 2003, when plans for a Michael Jackson Performing Arts Center in the city's downtown were announced. It was never built.
Jackson's father and city officials announced plans earlier this month to move ahead with plans to build the performing arts center and a museum, but many in the city have their doubts whether it will ever be built.
Chuck Hughes, executive director of the Gary Chamber of Commerce was a member of City Council in 1995 when talk about the performing arts center was first discussed with the Jackson family.
"It was politics that squashed it," he said.
Clay said the city hopes to make the memorial an annual event.
"This is where it all started," he said. "Our love for the Jackson family and Michael began before they were famous and it is still entrenched."