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Michael Jackson Fans Share their Stories

By Jeannine Denholm
Published: Tuesday, July 07, 2009, at 06:06PM
michael jackson fan [Flickr]

Kirby Shields of Sacramento outside Staples Center

One thing that quickly became apparent while walking around Downtown today following the Michael Jackson memorial service is that there were literally thousands of stories and that people were more than willing to open up. They wanted to be part of something, even if they were unable to get inside the official memorial service.

One of the first people that caught my eye was Kirby Shields. He stood next to a huge homemade display of Michael Jackson pictures, magazine clippings and other keepsakes collected over the years. Kirby and his friend Sherry Wright of New York had come Downtown to be a part of the festivities, sell a few souvenirs and, for Kirby, to entertain by serenading some people as they walked by with Michael Jackson songs. Neither one had tickets but they said just being there was enough.

Mario and Cynthia Snowden of Chicago were among the lucky few who actually had tickets. The couple registered online not thinking they would ever be picked and dropped everything to fly to L.A. once Mario received the official voucher email. Both said the service was moving and an appropriate tribute to the King of Pop.

Cynthia said her favorite moment was when Jermaine Jackson sang "Smile," his brother's favorite song. Mario liked Jennifer Hudson's tribute. He also appreciated how Rev. Al Sharpton reminded everyone that may have been too young to remember how Michael Jackson truly broke racial barriers. It also struck Cynthia how human Michael seemed after the celebrity eulogies.

For several hours after the service, people milled around the barricades and blocks surrounding Staples Center buying souvenirs that ranged from cheap and tacky glitter gloves to quickly made t-shirts. I'm sure most were trying to hold something tangible to say they were part of history and it's really wonderful that our neighborhood was the host.

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