(CBS) — The sounds of saws and hammers have filled the air this week along the street in Gary where pop idol Michael Jackson grew up in advance of a three-day festival marking his birthday.
Prison inmates and volunteers from the Fuller Center for Housing are building the new home and rehabbing two others down the street. Even Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson wore a blue “I Heart Gary” T-shirt and a carpenter’s apron as she hung siding on the new house being built 100 feet from the Jackson homestead. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence joined her and toured the three homes, all on the 2300 and 2400 blocks of Jackson Street.
“To the extent that we have people visiting, we want to make sure that we have a place that we would want them to visit,” she said.
Pence inspected the work, hung a piece of siding on the new home, at 2332 Jackson St., then met the pop star’s mother, who is in town for the festival, which begins Thursday and runs through Saturday. He’d never met Katherine Jackson, and said talking with her as he sat on the sofa in the living room of 2300 Jackson Street was a “pinch me moment.”
“I said, ‘One of the dreams of my life was to meet your son,’” he said. “But this is pretty close.”
The Jackson family is hosting a three-day festival that begins in the morning, on Jackson Street and at adjacent Roosevelt High School, directly in back of the homestead. While Michael Jackson did not attend Roosevelt, his older brothers did.
The Jackson family has rehabilitated their old homestead, on the southwest corner of 23rd Avenue and Jackson Street, and the home next door, at 2306 Jackson. The family has purchased 2312 Jackson and intends to rehab that home as well, Freeman-Wilson said.
The three-day festival will include live music on two stages, a car show, a dance competition and steppers show, a kids’ pavilion and a petting zoo. Hours are 12 noon until 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. Saturday.