Prince Michael Jackson I and Paris Jackson, in 2012
08/30/2012 at 10:00 AM EDT
Michael Jackson's children Prince, Paris and Blanket made a pilgrimage to their father's hometown of Gary, Ind., on Wednesday – joining an emotional vigil at his childhood home – to mark what would have been the King of Pop's 54th birthday.
As a throng of fans gathered near 2300 Jackson St., Prince, 15, Paris, 14, and Blanket, 10, reflected on the legacy of their father, who died three summers ago
at the age of 50.
"We're here in Gary, and it's a new experience for us. People are real nice here," Prince told a local reporter
. "It's amazing how much he was respected and loved."
Blanket added: "It's a good place. It's good to see it, the place where our dad grew up." The kids were also photographed on a roller coaster and are expected to participate in festivities in Gary throughout the weekend.
Paris, who has spoken out recently
about her father's death, mourned him on Twitter
Wednesday, writing: "thru my joy & my sorrow, in the promise of another 2morro, i'll never let u apart for ur always in my heart … happy birthday i love u daddy."
Asked at the vigil how she and her brothers are doing, Paris replied: "We've adjusted over the past years. And I think that coming here and seeing our dad's old house, and all the fans coming out, I think it's really sweet that they did that."
She wants people to remember him "as one of the greatest and nicest guys ever," she added.
This is the first time the Jackson family has been actively involved in planning the annual vigil in Gary.
"It all started here," the Rev. Jesse Jackson said Wednesday, pointing at the two-bedroom house, reports the Chicago Tribune
. "[The Jacksons] didn't come out of Juilliard."