Jackson family talks about Michael, plans for park, museum
GARY — With a massive RV tucked behind her former tiny home, Katherine Jackson, mother of the late Michael Jackson, remembered her son as a generous child who was born to entertain.
Katherine Jackson joined husband Joe Jackson, other family members, and business associates in an impromptu press conference to kick off the four-day Legends Festival honoring Michael Jackson before what would have been his 53rd birthday Monday.
Katherine Jackson remembered Michael Jackson as a happy, generous child and her five sons as they were becoming pop star sensations The Jackson 5.
“There’s a lot of memories that stand out in my mind from when we were here, like when the boys used to practice all the time,” Katherine Jackson said about her sons’ group The Jackson 5. “I remember Michael was so happy when he was young, and he used to take all his money and buy candy for all the kids in the neighborhood.“I’m here because I love (Michael Jackson).”
Jackson said she would leave town before Monday, because she does not celebrate birthdays due to her religious beliefs. Jackson also said she wanted to return to California before her grandchildren start the school year.
Joe Jackson told the small crowd of plans under way by the Jackson Family Heritage Foundation, including investing in Happy Land, a massive entertainment center in Vietnam that will include a Michael Jackson tribute area.
Phan Thi Phuong Thao, chairwoman of Khang Tong, the Vietnamese company building the complex, flanked Katherine Jackson during the conference.
While city officials several weeks ago complained nothing had moved forward on the entertainment complex that was planned for the Glen Park neighborhood, Simon Sahouri, the man charged with bringing a Michael Jackson museum and entertainment arts complex to Gary, dismissed concerns by some city officials he may not be the man for the job.
Sahouri insisted he has secured the not-for-profit status city officials require before giving away acres of land to the project.
“I don’t like to submit bits and pieces of the project,” Sahouri said of the complex when asked if it was still in the works. “It is going to be for real, 100 percent.”
In the spring, the city’s Board of Public Works and Safety again extended a deadline for Sahouri to provide proof the foundation has the proper tax status. Instead, city attorneys received a photocopy of paperwork for a not-for-profit foundation with a different name.
Sahouri also said he was confident the city’s next mayor will back him up.
“I believe in everybody in the city of Gary, Indiana, that this is going to happen.”