Sources: The Wall Street Journal – By David Shapiro | All Things Michael
Spike Lee rarely cracked a smile as he walked around his annual party in Brooklyn signing autographs, fist-bumping fans and throwing T-shirts into the dancing-and-singing crowd.
Mr. Lee’s stone-faced hosting style appeared out of sync with the jubilant atmosphere at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza, where thousands of revelers gathered Sunday afternoon to celebrate what would have been Michael Jackson‘s 56th birthday.
At the party, titled “Brooklyn Loves MJ,” Jackson’s iconic music boomed for blocks around. In the neighborhood, passersby danced while carrying groceries. Residents of the apartments overlooking the plaza nodded their heads to the beat as they surveyed the scene from their balconies.
Mr. Lee strode through the crowd wearing an orange velveteen fedora (provided by Party City, which outfitted hundreds in free fedoras) and Nike Air Force One sneakers emblazoned with images of Jackson from the “Thriller” era. The sneakers said “Thriller” on the back.
In the early afternoon, Lionel Powell, a 54-year-old man dressed as a tree, caught the attention of many as he danced through the crowd on 10-foot-tall stilts that looked like tree trunks. He crouched on his stilts to speak and to be photographed, and once, when he stood back up, he stretched his arms out, blocking the sun for a moment.
“I’m givin’ you a little shade,” Mr. Powell said with a laugh.
Mr. Powell didn’t charge passersby for taking photos with him, but plenty of others at the event were interested in making money. People sold Michael Jackson T-shirts, holistic health and beauty products, jerk chicken and fruity beverages.
In the crowd, Mr. Lee may have been the only person without a smile. Police officers bobbed their heads as they patrolled. Maintenance workers sang as they picked up litter. Two emergency medical technicians attempted to learn Jackson’s moonwalk.
“We’re on duty,” said one of the medical technicians, “but when ‘Thriller’ comes on, you can’t just stand there.”
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