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Tito Jackson

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Jackson fans flock to childhood home in GaryComments June 26, 2009 By Lisa DeNeal, Post-Tribune correspondentGARY -- The house that built a music dynasty at 2300 Jackson Street became a memorial site Thursday as throngs of fans and neighbors remembered Gary native and music icon Michael Jackson.Fans posed in front of the security door of Jackson's childhood home, which was quickly being covered with teddy bears and signs that read 'R.I.P.

Michael' and "We Will Miss You, Michael."� Click to enlarge imageDoris Jennings, (from left) and LaSonya Hamblin of Gary, and Shuntae Moore, holding 8-month-old daughter Taniyah Thurman, of Chicago, were among the many fans of singer Michael Jackson who traveled Thursday to his boyhood home in Gary after hearing of his death.

Jennings attended school with Jackson at Garnett Elementary School in Gary.

(Stephanie Dowell/Post-Tribune) RELATED STORIES� Michael Jackson dead of cardiac arrest at age 50� Jackson fans visit � Jackson's nice side recalled � Additional Jackson coveragePatricia Collier of Gary placed a neon pink teddy bear in between the security door bars.

She said when she lived in Detroit in the 1980s, she and a best friend would go to his concerts."My beautician called me and I could not, would not believe it.

Then the calls kept coming and I was like, 'Oh my God,'" she said.

Gary Mayor Rudy Clay stood under the Jackson Street sign, where just last year Jackson's father Joseph Jackson visited Gary and they unveiled another sign -- Jackson Family Blvd."Our hearts are heavy.

We have truly lost the world's greatest entertainer.

Gary has truly lost a legend," Clay said.Clay, who met with Marlon and Tito Jackson here May 22, added that he fondly remembered Michael's visit to Gary June 11, 2003."He was a beautiful, warm and friendly person a class act.

When he came to Roosevelt High School in 2003, the city went wild and the kids went wild.

This is just a sad, sad day." Elenora Johnson grew up on 23rd and Monroe Street and remembers going to school with Michael."We were classmates at Garnett Elementary School located right up the street on 21st Avenue.

He was there from the first through the third grade.

I remember at the sock hops during lunch hour, Michael was always the show stopper.

You had to watch him dance and no one could get in the middle of the floor to dance.

He loved the spotlight even then," she said.

Eddie Oliver is a mechanic for the city of Gary and has a photo of a young Michael with his brothers that was autographed by Michael during his 2003 visit."An older gentleman who is now deceased, gave me this photo which already had Michael's signature from back then.

But when I saw him in 2003, I got to him and showed him the picture and he signed it again.

I grew up near them and you could hear them play in the garages of various houses.

All you had to do was stand outside of the garage and listen," Oliver said.

A concert of songs from Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 blared from the stereo speakers of every make of car and truck clogging 23rd Avenue and Jackson Street.Gary police squad cars quickly blocked off the street and redirected traffic trying to pass by for another glimpse at the house.Wanda Taylor of Gary, grew up at 27th and Jackson Street, but she paused in her jeep as one of Michael's many hits, "Working Day and Night" flowed from her windows."I was born when 'Thriller' came out, but my daddy talked about Michael all the time! I am just in shock," she said.At the sidewalk in front of the house, Maachah(cq) Lee of Gary, comforted her 12-year-old daughter Sierra Jefferies who sobbed while holding a picture of Michael from the "Thriller" era and a small journal."She was recording what time he died.

She has been in love with Michael since she was nine.

I mean, Sierra watches Michael in the movie "The Wiz" all the time.

She is heartbroken," Maachah said."I know everything about Michael...everything," Sierra managed to say before breaking down again.,jack-house0626.article
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