There'll be a great celebration at 2300 Jackson Street and other locales in Gary this week.
Fans of Michael Jackson and the Jackson family are encouraged to take part in "Goin' Back to Indiana: Can You Feel It," beginning Wednesday and running through Saturday.
The series of events and activities, coinciding with what would have been Michael Jackson's 54th birthday, is being presented by The City of Gary; Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, the Gary Chamber of Commerce and DuMont Marketing, a firm authorized by Michael's mother, Katherine Jackson.
"This is meant to be a tribute to the world's greatest entertainer who fortunately hailed from Gary and Northwest Indiana," said Chuck Hughes, executive director of the Gary Chamber of Commerce.
Hughes said although all activities are being held in conjunction with Michael's birthday week, they've really "scratched the word birthday" from the official title of the event preferring to pay homage and offer a tribute to the spirit of Michael and his music. It's also meant to be a tribute to Katherine Jackson and the Jackson family.
Event organizers have gotten confirmation that Katherine Jackson and Michael's children, Prince, Paris and Blanket, will attend various events throughout the week.
"With her (Katherine) consenting to come and bring his three children, that speaks volumes," said Hughes, adding that Jackson has also indicated she's committed to helping promote the city of Gary.
Hughes said the week's activities and events will be varied and tasteful.
"It's going to be four days of meaningful activities that are available for the public to enjoy throughout the Northwest Indiana community," he said.
On Wednesday, Michael's birthday, fans can attend the Candlelight Tribute Ceremony at 2300 Jackson Street, site of Michael's boyhood home. The ceremony/vigil begins at 8 p.m. Freeman-Wilson will speak and The Gratitude Project will provide a musical tribute. FYI: tibc.tv
During the June visit of The Jacksons for their concert at Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville and their visit to 2300 Jackson Street to receive the keys to the City of Gary from the mayor, Michael's brothers mentioned that Prince, Paris and Blanket would be appearing at a RailCats game later in the summer. And Hughes said that will definitely happen on Thursday, when Michael's kids toss out the ceremonial first pitch for the RailCats game against the St. Paul Saints. They'll receive honorary team uniforms as well. The King of Pop will be recognized during the game with a musical performance by The Gratitude Project. There will also be a moment of remembrance. FYI: railcatsbaseball.com
In addition, guests may attend official "Goin' Back to Indiana" after-events at The Majestic Star Casinos & Hotel. The events, featuring Jackson-themed music and drink specials, will take place from 9 to 1 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday in the casino's Lakeshore Lounge.
Hughes said Katherine Jackson will be the guest of honor at a special dinner Friday, hosted by the Gary Chamber of Commerce and the mayor, at Majestic Star Casino & Hotel. The children are also expected to be in attendance for the dinner. FYI: For tickets and info., call (219) 885-7407 or garychamber.com
Fans who would like to celebrate the man and his music even more may attend the "Goin' Back to Indiana: Can You Feel It Tribute Concert" Saturday, presented by West Side Theatre Guild, under the direction of Mark Spencer. Shows will be performed at 4 and 7:30 p.m. A cast meet-and-greet follows both performances. Tickets are $25 for matinee; $35 for evening show; $50 for VIP Gold Circle seating and meet and greet. FYI: thewestsidetheatreguild.com