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Michael Jackson’s kids tour his hometown of Gary, Ind., to ‘know where their roots are’

Prince Paris Jackstwo older children pop star Michael Jacksappear with Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wils(second from left) Gary City Chamber executive

Prince and Paris Jackson, the two older children of pop star Michael Jackson, appear with Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson (second from left), Gary City Chamber executive director Chuck Hughes (far right) and Jerry Olivarez, representative for Katherine Jackson (far left), at a press conference at the Majestic Star Casino and Hotel in Gary, Ind. Wednesday, August 29, 2012. The event officially kicks off a celebration of Michael Jackson's birthday. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 1, 2012 5:39PM

Michael Jackson’s three children and mother spent his birthday Wednesday touring the city of Gary and stopping at his former home and school.

There was a news conference at the Majestic Star Casino to talk about events to commemorate the late King of Pop, who would have turned 54 Wednesday — but not all of the Jackson clan braved the crowd.

After sitting outside in an SUV for about an hour, Jackson’s two oldest children, Prince and Paris, finally came out to accept T-shirts and buttons from Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.

Jackson’s youngest son, Blanket, and his mother, Katherine Jackson, stayed in the SUV, however.

Freeman-Wilson sat in the SUV with the family for a little while and said afterward that she was reassuring the family that the city would honor their wishes.

“The kids are still shy,” the mayor said. “They didn’t grow up in the spotlight.”

The mayor said the family had spent the day touring the Jacksons’ hometown. She praised Katherine Jackson, who approached the mayor earlier in the year about taking part in celebrating Michael Jackson’s birthday in Gary.

“Mrs. Jackson came to me and said I want to be intricately involved in this celebration because we want to come home to Gary, we want our children to know where their roots are, where their dad grew up,” Freeman-Wilson said.

The mayor said the fact that the Indiana General Assembly had also passed a proclamation honoring the Jacksons shows the city’s events honoring Michael Jackson continue to grow each year.

Events celebrating Jackson’s birthday will continue during the next three days, including at the SouthShore RailCats baseball game Thursday night, where Jackson’s children are expected to throw the first pitch.

A concert honoring Jackson will then take place Saturday evening at the West Side High School. The event starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

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