On June 11, 2003 Michael Jackson returned to his hometown Gary, Indiana (USA). Below follows a chronology of the events on that very special day:
ARRIVAL IN GARY
Michael Jackson arrived in Gary (USA) at 12:02 pm local time, about 1 hour late, and attended a press conference.
MICHAEL AT THE CITY HALL
Michael arrived at Gary City Hall at approximately 12:27 pm in a black limo with a great deal of security. Escorted by more than a dozen security guards, he was met with a crowd of about four hundred people. Michael wore a black outfit with gold and white accents on the shoulders. He made the statement:
"It's great to be home. It's such a wonderful feeling. The hospitality is overwhelming. I left here at such a young age. I feel so much love. I love you all so much. Thank you for this wonderful, magical day that I'll never forget."
The crowd was ecstatic with enthusiasm and joy.
He then entered the City Hall to accept the key to the city and have a brief press conference. He stated this is his first trip back to Gary, Indiana since age 9 and he was very happy to be home. Scott L. King, Mayor of Gary presented the key to Michael and a street sign that said Jackson and said:
"Now that you have the key, you don't have to be a stranger."
During a press conference with Gary Mayor Scott King it was announced that Michael would help develop a performing arts center for the city. The center will be named the 'Michael J. Jackson Performing Arts Center.' According to mayor King the singer will support the project in any role he feels comfortable with, for example helping with the design or fund-raising. Michael Jackson added that being back in his hometown gives him a "wonderful feeling" and that he feels so much love that he feels like a king.
MICHAEL VISITS HIS OLD HOME
Afterwards, Michael visited the old house of the Jackson family where he had grown up. He greeted a relative, Tim Brown, who still resides in the house as well as more than 1,000 people. Inside, Michael would reminisced
"Tito slept there, Marlon slept there..."
In the living room, Michael told relatives, here
"we rehearsed, rehearsed and rehearsed all the time."
Gary resident Carol Walker said that she last saw Michael in the 1960's as he climbed a tree in the front yard. His brothers were busy loading and arranging musical instruments in the family van, she said.
"We've been waiting so many years (for his return). It's important for the kids. He can come back and tell us what he has gone through since he left Gary."
MICHAEL AT ROOSEVELT HIGH SCHOOL
Michael Jackson visited Roosevelt High School where the Jackson Five performed in the 1960's. Michael told students that "with a will of iron, with perseverance and determination" they can do anything they want. The students gave him gifts and a band played 'Beat It' and 'Thriller.'
A concert choir from Gary's Emerson School for the Visual and Performing Arts performed "Benedictus," and other students sang and danced. He was made an honorary Roosevelt graduated and then continued on to an unlikely next stop...the local KFC! The entourage bought meals while Michael remained in the parking lot, signing autographs, and posing for photographs.
"SALUTE TO THE TROOPS"
"Salute to the Troops" at the city’s new baseball stadium was an event open to the public with free admission. The program was to feature songs and dances performed by Gary students and adults, accompanied by pictures on the stadium’s giant screen. Representatives of Michael’s fan groups were to present him with flowers and books of fan letters.
The event began with recognition to the troops, followed by the National Anthem. The Mayor came out and taking the stage, gave a brief speech. It was at that moment that Sharon Sidney and Matthew Daniel came on stage to make the presentation on behalf of MJ Unity and fans around the world.
Sharon: "Hello Gary, Indiana! And hello Michael Jackson! (the crowd cheered) We are here this evening at the place were it all began, Gary Indiana! This town saw a lot of hard work from a family of people reaching for a dream, and saw the dream come true! Michael Jackson has come back to Gary Indiana and so have his fans!"(the fans cheered and yelled) "Michael, I have been elected to present you with this bouquet of roses, the single white rose in the middle represents yourself... Truth, integrity, purity and strength. The pink roses represent all of the fans and fan clubs that form MJ Unity." (Sharon handed the roses to Michael and he thanked her and reaching over, hugged and kissed her.)
Matthew: "We have also collected thousands of e-mail messages from fans around the world who could not be here in person but wanted to let you know how very much they love you and look forward to many more years of making magic together." (Matthew presented Michael with 5 books filled with messages from the fans. Michael thanked Matthew and took the books.)
Sharon: "Stay strong, stay true, you are forever the King of Pop, Rock and Soul!" (the crowd cheered!)
Once Michael and the Mayor left the stage the local youths started their performances. The acts ranged from Elementary to High School and many were renditions of Michael's songs. Michael enjoyed the performances very much and tapped his feet and 'moved' to the music. At one point he even took a cell phone from one young girl and had a brief conversation with her mother. Michael seemed to have a wonderful day, and Gary had a day to remember!
The Post-Tribune News quoted comments by Deborah Dannelly of MJFC about Michael’s visit to Gary:
"Gary, Indiana, is an icon of cities to his fans, because that’s where he was born. I don’t think for one minute he’s forgotten his home town."
Gary shouldn’t feel badly, she added, that Michael hasn’t visited more frequently.
"Michael quickly became the world’s person. He was not Gary’s very long."
article source: http://www.mjfanclub.net/home/gary-visit-2003
pictures from various sources