Fans Stop By Jackson Family Home In Gary On 11th Anniversary Of Michael Jackson’s Death: “You Couldn’t Stop Me From Coming!”

THE JACKSON FAMILY GROWING UP AT 2300 JACKSON STREET

ChicagoTribune.com., By Alexandra Kukulka, Posted June 26th 2020

It took 16 hours to get here from Boston, and he’d have to turn right back around to make it back home in time for his mom’s birthday this weekend. But Will King, 47, didn’t mind.

Around 10 a.m. Thursday, King was one of the first people of the day to make the pilgrimage to the house. Though signed posters tied to the fence around the house proved that at least two people beat him there the night before.

Seeing Michael Jackson’s childhood home in Gary was a bucket list item for him, King said. As he took photos of the home, he joked he’d soon have to start deleting photos from his phone for memory space, which would prove challenging since he has many photos of his grandchildren.

“You couldn’t stop me from coming,” King said. “It’s already been worth it.”

Michael Jackson died June 25, 2009 — two months before his 51 birthday — and every year since fans near and far come see his childhood home in Gary on the anniversary of his death to remember the King of Pop.

“It doesn’t seem like 11 years,” King said. “It’s bittersweet.”

The Jackson family home is located at 2300 Jackson Street, just behind Roosevelt High School. The house is white and tan with a black roof and neatly maintained landscaping. The pathway to the front door and at the side of the house have honorary plaques cementing the significance of the home.

MICHAEL JACKSON FANS AT 2300 JACKSON STREET

A fence surrounds the Jackson family home and the home next door, which has two pictures in the front windows: A picture of Michael Jackson standing between his parents and the same picture with his father cropped out.

Throughout the morning Thursday, a handful of cars slowed or stopped in front of the house to look at it and snap some pictures. A car with Virginia plates was parked next to the house for a few minutes, then drove off.

Rachel Walker, who lives in California, is currently on a road trip across the country with her family. They planned the trip, so they could be in Gary on Thursday to honor the anniversary of Jackson’s death, she said.

Walker recalled being on a fishing trip the day Jackson died and hearing the news as the boat pulled into the harbor. A happier memory, Walker said, was the day she bought the Thriller album shortly after its release.

“We’re loyal fans,” Walker said, adding it was her second time visiting the home.

Paul Hayward, 55, of Gary, said he came to see the house Thursday to honor Jackson on the anniversary of his death. But, Hayward said he has stopped by the house many times in the last 20 years.

Hayward recalled that Michael Jackson’s uncle lived in the house for a few years. He also recalled stopping by the house for a previous anniversary celebration and seeing Jackson’s mother’s large RV parked behind the house because, he heard, she doesn’t like to fly.

Years ago, while on a train between terminals at the Atlanta airport, Hayward said he sat between Marlon and Janet and across from him was LaToya, Jackson’s siblings. Stunned to see they were traveling without security, Hayward struck up a conversation with Marlon and learned they were flying to New York City.

Hayward said his top three favorite Jackson songs are “Billie Jean,” “Smooth Criminal” and “Ghosts.” He said he was in the Philippines when Jackson died and was completely shocked by the news.

Growing up in Gary, Hayward said he has stopped by the Jackson home frequently for motivation.

“It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you are going. Greatness came out of that house,” Hayward said. “It’s hard to believe that someone so worldly lived here.”

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