As a squadron of news helicopters hovered, Michael Jackson’s family and close friends mourned the pop star at a private funeral Tuesday morning. A hearse carrying his flower-covered casket then joined a motorcade headed to the public memorial at the Staples Center.
In a spectacle carried live on television, authorities shut down freeways at the peak of rush hour to make way for the Rolls-Royces and Escalades traveling first to the funeral at Forest Lawn in the Hollywood Hills and then to the memorial in downtown Los Angeles.
Thousands began streaming into the cavernous sports and concert arena, getting 15-page programs with a message from Jackson’s sister Janet: “I miss you Mike and I love you.”
The memorial follows the private funeral that lasted less than a half hour in the 1,200-seat Hall of Liberty auditorium at Forest Lawn, a cemetery flanked by the Disney and Warner Bros. studios. Starting at 6:30 a.m., mourners traveled by police-escorted motorcade from the Jackson family compound in Encino across the San Fernando Valley. The night before, a smaller group of the Jackson clan gathered oat the cemetery.
After the funeral, Jackson’s casket, decorated with red, white and yellow roses, was loaded into the hearse, and the motorcade traveled across unusually barren freeways cleared by CHP motorcycle officers. People gawked from the hillsides and overpasses. The star-studded tribute reportedly will serve as a combination gala celebration and somber funeral for Michael Jackson. Those scheduled to take the stage include Mariah Carey, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, John Mayer and Stevie Wonder. The Rev. Al Sharpton is to deliver the eulogy, reported NBC News.
• Reporting by OLIVER JONES and JOHNNY DODD
Stay with PEOPLE.com for continuous updates on the Michael Jackson memorial scheduled for 1 p.m. Eastern time.
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