Michael Jackson Public Viewing At Neverland Set For Friday
According to CNN, Jackson’s body will be returned Thursday — via a 30-car motorcade — to the amusement park/zoo/mansion that was his home for nearly two decades, just a week after the 50-year-old singer died at a rented Los Angeles mansion.
A spokesperson for Jackson also told CNN that private memorial services for the singer will be held on Sunday, though the question of where Jackson will be buried remains unresolved.
On Monday, Jackson’s father, Joseph, refuted rumors that his son would be buried at Neverland and said that it was too early to talk about funeral plans because the family was still awaiting the results of a second autopsy.
On Tuesday, thousands of admirers gathered in New York’s Harlem neighborhood to pay their respects at the famous Apollo Theater, where Jackson performed with the Jackson 5 some 40 years ago.
Though Jackson spent much of his adult life living in the Los Angeles area, the mayor of his hometown of Gary, Indiana has asked the family to consider burying the singer there. A spokesperson for Mayor Rudy Clay told CNN that the city’s leader has been in touch with the Jackson family and is hoping that the gritty Midwestern industrial town could be Jackson’s final resting place. At the very least, Clay told Chicago radio station WGN, he expects that Jackson’s body will be taken to Gary for a memorial service he is planning next week.
“I believe that his body will lie in state in Gary, Indiana,” Clay said Tuesday. “Now, it may not happen, but I believe it will.” That memorial service is slated to take place on July 10 at the city’s U.S. Steel Works ballpark and Clay promised that it would be a memorial “fit for the prince of peace and a memorial that’s fit for Gary, Indiana’s favorite son, the greatest entertainer that ever lived.”
Should the Jackson family agree to have the singer buried there, a spokesperson for the mayor said the tomb could be near a proposed Jackson family museum and performing arts center that the city has discussed with family patriarch Joseph Jackson.
The public viewing at Neverland will likely be an emotional event for Jackson’s many fans in the U.S. and across the globe, as the secluded 2,500-acre property was off-limits to all but Jackson’s intimates during the time he lived there from 1988 to 2005.
Ownership of the ranch, renamed Sycamore Valley Ranch, was transferred to a company called Colony Capital in 2008 in a deal that allowed Jackson to hold onto the property when Colony agreed to buy the $23.5 million mortgage, according to TMZ.
Jackson took leave of Neverland — named after the fictional world in the story of Peter Pan — in 2005, following his acquittal on child-molestation charges. Aerial shots shown on CNN on Tuesday revealed that amusement park rides, train and zoo had all been removed since Jackson’s departure.