“Goin’ Back to Indiana: Can You Feel It” is a four-day tribute that runs from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1, 2012 to remember Gary, Indiana’s most famous native son: Michael Jackson. Hosted by Gary, Ind.’s Chamber of Commerce’s executive director Chuck Hughes, the event will pay homage to the late King of Pop’s life and music. Jackson’s 54th birthday is Aug. 29.
The unprecedented celebration will include special appearances by Jackson’s children Prince, Paris and Blanket Jackson and his older sister LaToya Jackson. Read what Hughes has to say about this Jackson hometown tribute. –yvette caslin
Why is the Michael Jackson birthday event important to Gary, Ind.?
This is not a birthday celebration. This is a tribute to, in our opinion, the greatest entertainer the world has ever seen. This tribute is important to Gary because Gary is important to Mrs. Jackson. The intent is to inspire, promote and benefit the city of Gary in the years to come.
In your own words, describe Gary in terms of atmosphere, residents, tourist destinations, quality of life, jobs and business opportunities, etc.
Gary is a proud city with a rich history of success and misfortune. Our residents are determined to restore its rich tradition. Our proximity to Chicago has always been a plus. In 30 to 45 minutes, one can travel to any of the great destinations that city has to offer. Here in Gary, we are on the shores of Lake Michigan and we possess beautiful beaches, nature trails and environmental centers. We have a multi-use Convention Center with an arena that seats 9,000 people. We have two casinos that provide revenue to the city. Gary is the home of U.S. Steel whose production in most years is tops in the world. We have challenges including unemployment, some underachieving schools and financial concerns similar to almost every urban environment in this country. We also possess some outstanding students, talented individuals and businesses contributing mightily to the sustainability of our city.
Are you a native? If so, what is your fondest memory growing up?
I am a native. My fondest memories involve meeting the great people from Gary who were achieving on the world and national stage. It was being in a school system that ranked in the top third of the nation academically. It was watching our athletic teams dominate the sports scene. It was watching five kids from Gary, Indiana go on and become one of the greatest singing groups in history.
Do you know any of the Jacksosn personally?
I have met with the Jacksons in their home. I know all of their relatives here in the area. They are fine people.
What about Olympic medalist’s Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas’ family?
I have been in Gary all my life. We are so proud of Gabby. I know many of her family members who are here including her grandparents.
Why should we visit?
Come and experience the great people of Gary for yourself. Do not be deterred by negative perceptions expressed by individuals who are not very knowledgeable about the heart of our city. Also at the end of August, Gary, Ind. is the only place where you can see the Jackson family matriarch and all three children of the world’s greatest entertainer.
What can tourists and visitors expect to do and see at the tribute?
One can expect to attend a prayer vigil out of the respect for the life of Michael Jackson. One can attend a Gary minor league baseball game and share in the moment as Michael’s kids are tossing out the first ball. Then there is the tribute dinner to Mrs. Katherine Jackson that will salute her and include the attendance of many of her family members traveling to Gary and those that are local.