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Even youngest fans gather for Jackson tribute

  • Story Highlights
  • Children among thousands in Los Angeles saying goodbye to pop star
  • Jackson, who died June 25 at age 50, had been entertaining since he was little
  • Toddlers in fans' arms, kids in Jackson T-shirts gather at Staples Center and beyond
  • Fans, some of whom who'd traveled far, recall Jackson's effect on their lives
By Lisa Respers France
CNN
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- People walked by 12-year-old Yance Phillips as he danced on Hollywood Boulevard on Sunday.

Children dance by Michael Jackson's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Sunday.

YaYa, 2, stands near framed coverage of Michael Jackson's death on the Walk of Fame on Sunday.

He swayed and bounced to the beat of a boom box, drawing only a glance from people making their way down the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Then he moonwalked, and suddenly, Phillips had the crowd's attention.

"I watched Michael Jackson, and I just tried to do it like he does," Yance said. "I like the moves that he does."

As thousands gathered in Los Angeles to say goodbye to a star who had been entertaining since he was a little boy, it was hard not to notice the children in the crowd.

Toddlers in the arms of their parents who were fans, and kids wearing T-shirts emblazoned with Jackson's face gathered at the Staples Center and beyond as the city geared up for the pop icon's memorial service.

A group of tweens even pooled their money to trek from the Valley to Hollywood -- sans adults and sharing a digital camera -- to take pictures of Jackson's star on the Walk of Fame for a video they wanted to create. Video See what fans had to say at the Walk of Fame »

They were too young to know about the singer's legal troubles or to remember a time when Jackson's appearance was quite different from what it was in his final years. To them, he was just a star who could sing and dance across a floor like magic.

MICHAEL JACKSON The Memorial
Tuesday, join CNN and CNN.com Live for all-day coverage as the world celebrates the life of a worldwide pop icon, and don't miss our prime-time coverage starting at 8p ET.

"I like all of his music and how he dresses," said 8-year-old Sarah McClure as she glanced down at her own Michael Jackson T-shirt. "My favorite is 'Thriller.' "

McClure traveled more than 90 miles with her little sister, Emily, 5, and her mother, Geri McClure, to visit the Staples Center, where the memorial to Jackson will be held Tuesday.

As they waited in line to sign a wall of remembrance to the singer, Geri McClure said she wanted her daughters "to be a part of history."

"Plus, they love his music," she added. "He was an entertainer for the different generations."

Barbara Alvarez and her husband, David, endured the heat as well as they waited with their children Isaac, 8, William, 4, and 1-year-old Ava.

"Watching and listening to Michael Jackson was one of the happiest memories of my childhood," Alvarez said. "I grew up on his music." She wanted to impart that to her kids.

Isaac smiled shyly as his mother revealed that he became a fan years ago after she showed him the "Thriller" video.

"My daughter even dances to his music," said Alvarez, as Ava rested in the shade of her stroller.

Yance Phillips said he was doing his moonwalk on Hollywood Boulevard to raise money to help bury a relative. Donations poured into the jar at his feet. His grandmother, Regina Stevenson, said Jackson's appeal was-wide ranging and touched fans of all ages and nationalities.

"He showed children of all races that they could be successful," Stevenson said.

Maria Pace, who is almost 20 years old, said she can remember how Jackson helped ease the path of her younger years.

She was a shy girl from Spain, unsure of how to make friends in her new homeland of Bakersfield, California, when a fellow classmate played some Michael Jackson music and the pair bonded.

"She liked Michael Jackson music, and I liked Michael Jackson music, and we started dancing to it," Pace recalled. "It was me, her and another girl, and we became known as the Jackson girls."

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Pace said she doesn't believe there will ever be another entertainer like Jackson, but she hopes younger generations continue to be inspired by him -- especially a trio of children who know firsthand of his talent.

"Maybe one day," Pace said, "one of his children will become a performer."

All About Michael Jackson

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