Santa Maria, Calif., is bracing for an invasion of Michael Jackson fans, who’ll be descending on the town by the thousands to offer moral support at the King of Pop’s arraignment on Friday. The fan-organized, Jackson-sanctioned candlelight vigil will take place Thursday night at Neverland, according to Jackson’s website. Jackson will also charter shuttle buses for fans traveling between Los Angeles and the Santa Maria courthouse on Friday morning, when he’s to learn exactly what charges he’ll face in the current child molestation case against him. (A grand jury decided to indict him last week; he has denied all allegations in the matter.)
Santa Maria Police Chief Dan Macagni told the Associated Press that he was working with Jackson’s new security team (not the Nation of Islam members who had been guarding him in recent months) on an extensive security plan that would keep the singer, the court officers, and the up to 2,000 fans safe. Recalling Jackson’s January court appearance, where he nearly caused a riot among his supporters by dancing on top of an SUV, Macagni said he hoped the singer would not offer a repeat performance. ”That would really, really be nice and would make our day,” he said.