As the first anniversary of Michael Jackson's death drew near, Julia Thomas clutched her "Thriller" liner notes and stood outside the Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale, Calif., the final resting place for the King of Pop, with about two dozen other fans.
"Michael has just always been a part of my life," the 40-year-old Thomas, who has a tattoo of Jackson'sdancing feet on her left wrist, said Thursday night. "I'm just hoping to embrace the fans from everywhere."
Barricades were already set up at the Los Angeles-area cemetery for the huge throng of fans and some ofJackson's family members expected to arrive on Friday, which marks a year since Jackson died at age 50. Five large wreaths of flowers and dozens of bouquets, drawings and photos of Jackson had been placed outside his private mausoleum.
"I came because I love Michael very much," Sofianou said. "I came to grieve."
Forest Lawn was to be just one of the many places around the world where Jackson's fans would gather to remember their fallen legend on Friday. But not everyone planned to be grieving.
On Friday, DJ Jon Quick was to spin Jackson tunes at the club Taj in Manhattan for a festive affair.
"They wanna celebrate his life and music," Quick said of the expected partygoers. "His albums are like timelines in your life. You can remember what you were doing ... when 'Thriller' came out."
Some anniversary events began even before Friday. In London, a memorial was unveiled Thursday to a gaggle of press who packed the foyer of the Lyric Theatre, the site of an impromptu wake following the pop superstar's death last year.
Perri Luc Kiely, 14, a member of the dance troupe Diversity, pulled back a pair of dark purple curtains to reveal a small plaque featuring a young Jackson with a wide, beaming smile.
In Hong Kong, Jackson imitators performed to the late singer's classics at a suburban mall Thursday. Four-year-old Wang Yiming danced to "Dangerous" wearing Jackson's trademark black fedora hat, a black suit with a silver armband and white socks.
In Gary, Ind., Jackson's hometown, there was to be a tribute at the family home; city officials said they expected Jackson's mother, Katherine Jackson, and his niece Genevieve Jackson to show up, along with thousands of others.
But his brother Randy Jackson was hoping to make the official family commemoration at Forest Lawn on Friday morning.
"My family and I will be in attendance as we mourn the loss of my brother," he said in a statement Thursday. "I would like to thank the fans and friends for their continued love, support and prayers."
Katherine Jackson has thrown her support behind a "Forever Michael" fan event to be held Saturday at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles. Tickets range from $150 to $500.
The Apollo Theater in Harlem, where a young Michael Jackson and his brothers won amateur night, on Friday was to host a commemoration of Jackson's life in front of the recently installed plaque honoring him in the legendary theater's new hall of fame.
Sharpton, a longtime associate of Jackson and his family, gave impassioned remarks at Jackson's televised memorial last July and said he thought a moment of silence was appropriate to show "the sanctity of the hour."
"He meant a lot to us of all races in terms of bringing us together in another kind of spirit," Sharpton said. "I wanted to make sure that we showed that in the middle of all this that is going on in the world that Michael is someone that we would all stop for ... . He was more than just a singer, he was a social force and a sense of inspiration."