NEW YORK (AP) - As the first anniversary of Michael Jackson's
death drew near, Julia Thomas clutched her "Thriller" liner notes
and stood outside the Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale, Calif., the
final resting place for the King of Pop, with about two dozen other
"Michael has just always been a part of my life," the
40-year-old Thomas, who has a tattoo of Jackson's dancing feet on
her left wrist, said Thursday night. "I'm just hoping to embrace
the fans from everywhere."
Barricades were already set up at the Los Angeles-area cemetery
for the huge throng of fans and some of Jackson's family members
expected to arrive on Friday, which marks a year since Jackson died
at age 50. Five large wreaths of flowers and dozens of bouquets,
drawings and photos of Jackson had been placed outside his private
Evdokia Sofianou, 46, and her 9-year-old daughter, Rebecca,
traveled from Athens, Greece, to pay their respects.
"I came because I love Michael very much," Sofianou said. "I
came to grieve."
Forest Lawn was to be just one of the many places around the
world where Jackson's fans would gather to remember their fallen
legend on Friday. But not everyone planned to be grieving.
On Friday, DJ Jon Quick was to spin Jackson tunes at the club
Taj in Manhattan for a festive affair.
"They wanna celebrate his life and music," Quick said of the
expected partygoers. "His albums are like timelines in your life.
You can remember what you were doing ... when 'Thriller' came
Some anniversary events began even before Friday. In London, a
memorial was unveiled Thursday to a gaggle of press who packed the
foyer of the Lyric Theatre, the site of an impromptu wake following
the pop superstar's death last year.
Perri Luc Kiely, 14, a member of the dance troupe Diversity,
pulled back a pair of dark purple curtains to reveal a small plaque
featuring a young Jackson with a wide, beaming smile.
In Hong Kong, Jackson imitators performed to the late singer's
classics at a suburban mall Thursday. Four-year-old Wang Yiming
danced to "Dangerous" wearing Jackson's trademark black fedora
hat, a black suit with a silver armband and white socks.
In Gary, Ind., Jackson's hometown, there was to be a tribute at
the family home; city officials said they expected Jackson's
mother, Katherine Jackson, and his niece Genevieve Jackson to show
up, along with thousands of others.
But his brother Randy Jackson was hoping to make the official
family commemoration at Forest Lawn on Friday morning.
"My family and I will be in attendance as we mourn the loss of
my brother," he said in a statement Thursday. "I would like to
thank the fans and friends for their continued love, support and
Katherine Jackson has thrown her support behind a "Forever
Michael" fan event to be held Saturday at the Beverly Hilton hotel
in Los Angeles. Tickets range from $150 to $500.
The Apollo Theater in Harlem, where a young Michael Jackson and
his brothers won amateur night, on Friday was to host a
commemoration of Jackson's life in front of the recently installed
plaque honoring him in the legendary theater's new hall of fame.
And later in the afternoon in Harlem, around the hour of
Jackson's death, the Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action
Network were to hold a moment of silence.
Sharpton, a longtime associate of Jackson and his family, gave
impassioned remarks at Jackson's televised memorial last July and
said he thought a moment of silence was appropriate to show "the
sanctity of the hour."
"He meant a lot to us of all races in terms of bringing us
together in another kind of spirit," Sharpton said. "I wanted to
make sure that we showed that in the middle of all this that is
going on in the world that Michael is someone that we would all
stop for ... . He was more than just a singer, he was a social
force and a sense of inspiration."