Fans to say goodbye to Michael Jackson

LOS ANGELES The demand for tickets is so huge that organizers have set up tight restrictions for admission.

More than 1.6 million people had rushed to their computers to sign up to be one of 8,750 people selected. Each entrant who was chosen received two tickets.

"I cried. I thank God, 'cause he knows. And you know what I said to God? I said, 'God those people that are planning on selling those tickets, don't let them win.' I'm not planning on selling these tickets," said Lendell Walker, a ticket holder.

Winners were instructed to pick up their tickets and wristbands at Dodger Stadium on Monday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. By 9:30 a.m., more than 1,000 vehicles had pulled into the stadium.

The Staples Center will admit 11,000 ticketholders, and another 6,500 will be in the Nokia Theater overflow section next door.

Many fans anxiously waited at the Staples Center before the electronic drawing, but most people received a disappointing e-mail on Sunday that they were not selected to attend the memorial.

"I'm thrilled, this is going to be huge and it's just such a blessing to be able to be a part of it," said Karen Carter, a ticket holder.

The chances of being selected were 1 in 183.

"I was shocked," said Christina Beltran, a ticket holder.

"I'm going to be bringing my daughter, she's 9, and I think that it's very important for her to be a part of it. She knows the music, she knows the songs, she likes Michael Jackson," she said.

The Jackson family announced Monday participants in the memorial. The service will include artists who inspired Jackson throughout his life and those he influenced. The list includes Kobe Bryant, Mariah Carey, Andrae Crouch Choir, Berry Gordy, Jennifer Hudson, Magic Johnson, Martin Luther King III, Bernice A. King, John Mayer, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Brooke Shields, Usher, Stevie Wonder, Britain's Got Talent finalist Shaheen Jafargholi and family friends Ron Boyd and Pastor Lucious Smith.

Security will be extremely tight and only those with tickets will be allowed into the area. If you don't have tickets, the LAPD urges you to stay at home.

"If folks do not have a ticket, if they are not credentialed, they will not be in the area where they can see anything at the Staples or Nokia," said LAPD Dep. Chief Earl Paysinger. "Our best advice is to stay at home and watch the ceremony from the comfort of your homes."

Barbara Ramirez was one of the fans chosen to attend the event. Her husband was not able to take the day off of work so she decided to give her extra ticket to a true fan. Ramirez gave the ticket to Melvin Price, who came from England to pay tribute to the singer and was disappointed that he would not eligible for the giveaway. He was trembling and in tears when Ramirez told him the good news.

"There are so many nice people in this world and I think I've just met the most awesome and nicest person I could ever meet. Thank you very much. Thank you very, very much," Price said before giving Ramirez a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.

Selling the tickets and the wristbands is a big concern. The LAPD says it will have undercover officers working the scene and searching online, checking Craigslist and eBay.

Fans continue to arrive at Staples Center to get a look at the preparations and sign giant posters of the pop singer. The messages are short, heartfelt wishes to Michael Jackson and his family.

LAPD will be clearing out the area around Staples Center on Tuesday. A force of 3,000 response personnel, including police officers and firefighters, will be posted throughout the area.

"Those personnel are here on overtime. It's going to be very expensive. The cost estimate right now is at two and a half-million dollars," said L.A. City Councilman Dennis Zine.

It's an extraordinary bill at a time when workers are being furloughed and the city budget is running in the red.

Councilman Dennis Zine and acting mayor Jan Perry say AEG, the owner and operator of Staples, should pick up the tab. The company stands to make millions from the release of Jackson's final rehearsal video.

"The fact is that taxpayers of the city of Los Angeles already have a $530 million deficit. The state of California is issuing IOUs. The state of California does not have a budget. We are in very tight financial times," Zine said.

AEG is dependent on city personnel to pull off the event, everything from traffic control to counter-terrorism measures.

Traffic will be shut down in the area starting at 6 a.m. Tuesday and buses will be rerouted. The following street closures will be in effect:

  • Figueroa Street between Olympic Blvd and Pico Blvd
  • Flower Street between Olympic Blvd and Pico Blvd
  • Cherry Street between Olympic Blvd and Pico Blvd
  • 11th Street/Chick Hearn Court between Blaine Street and Flower Street

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