At 7:55 a.m., an উশের at the glass doors outside Staples Center in Los Angeles had a message for the thousands already gathering for the day's public memorial for Michael Jackson. "We are aware of your sorrow!" he announced in deep, affectionate tones. "We are aware of your pain! And we are aware of your joy!"
The man in the purple polo শার্ট then instructed ticket-holders how to line up, and that অনুরাগী would have to leave their ফুলেরডালি and other "gifts" on a টেবিল outside the arena, all while insisting that "it is our pleasure, it is our privilege to welcome আপনি ..." It was a moment of genuine warmth at an otherwise outsized international media event, and was maybe a better indication of what was to come than the chaotic days of planning that finally led to Tuesday's gathering.
Part funeral, part musical celebration, the two-hour Jackson tribute was a deeply emotional and public outpouring of grief, with rousing testimonials to the late singer and inspired musical performances from the likes of Stevie Wonder and Jennifer Hudson. It was also the year's hottest ticket. Though 17,500 tickets were distributed freely to অনুরাগী দ্বারা lottery, online prices were reportedly as high as $2,000, but অনুরাগী outside the arena found scalpers selling for as low as $200 each.
The media encampment across the রাস্তা was like the Oscars and a political convention combined, with satellite trucks and টেলিভিশন cameras to the horizon. নবীকৃত তথ্য were coming from virtually every direction and cell phone. Two hours before the ceremony began, word was that Jackson's body would not be interred at L.A.'s Forest Lawn Cemetery (where a private ceremony was held early in the morning) but transported to the arena, either দ্বারা শবযান, hearse অথবা chopper. A man with a shaved head could be heard barking into the phone: "So he's not going to be buried?"
As most অনুরাগী hovered দ্বারা the main entrance, others gathered at the rear driveway to await the arrival of Jackson's hearse. When the wagon finally rolled slowly past, the golden casket covered in red ফুলেরসাজি was clearly visible through a window, and a few cheered, but most watched quietly. "That's amazing," ব্যক্ত Christina Garcia, 28. "It's an honor to be here. It's definitely a sad day."
Others lined up near the entrance to sign the collection of large white Jackson banners, leaving thousands of scrawled messages of devotion to the singer: "Praise God for the gift of Michael Jackson," "RIP Michael — আপনি were the greatest" and "Always believed in you." Another woman in black wept as a seven-foot floral arrangement in the shape of a হৃদয় was raised beside a bronze statue of former Lakers superstar (and Jackson friend) Earvin "Magic" Johnson. It read, "We প্রণয় you, Michael" in red and white roses.
Once inside the arena, অনুরাগী and mourners were handed free programs with pages of photographs and testimonials from Jackson's brothers and other friends. But this was a memorial, not a pop concert. Funeral wreaths lined up against the stage. The mood was often solemn.
Smokey Robinson began দ্বারা পাঠ করা statements from Diana Ross and Nelson Mandela, and the first of many অনুরাগী অনুরাগী shouted, "We প্রণয় you, Michael!" But it was mostly silence and then a standing ovation as Jackson's family took their seats. The choir sang "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! ..." and the singer's golden casket was rolled out দ্বারা his brothers অভিনয় as pallbearers, each of them wearing a single, sequined glove.
Mariah Carey was the first to perform, stepping out in a black, low-cut গাউন, gown to begin a fragile "I'll Be There," the Jackson 5 hit, rising with passion as she was joined দ্বারা Trey Lorenz. Pictures of the young Jackson 5 singer flashed on the big screen behind them.
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