Newark's quandary is similar to the decisions Los Angeles had to make when Michael Jackson, another pop superstar brought down before his time, died in 2009. A public memorial at the Staples Center, a professional sports arena, cost taxpayers about $3 million but pumped a million more than that into the local economy through hotel stays, restaurants and other businesses, according to a city report.
In Los Angeles, it has become a tradition that whenever a major celebrity dies, fans lay flowers and other gestures of sorrow and tribute on the deceased's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Houston had no star, leaving Angelenos with nowhere to express their grief.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which manages the Walk of Fame, explained that Houston was selected for a star in 1995, but a date was never requested by the singer's representatives for an unveiling ceremony. That selection expired in 2000, it said, but can be reconsidered if desired by the family.
Gospel singer Marvin Winans, a Grammy Award winner and longtime family friend, has been chosen to give the eulogy in Newark, his son, Marvin Jr., and Winans' office at Perfecting Faith Church in Detroit told The Associated Press.
Winans, in his role as a pastor, married Houston and fellow singer Bobby Brown in 1992; the couple later divorced. The Winans and Houston families have been friends for years, and Houston performed with Winans' siblings CeCe and BeBe, members of one of gospel music's most prominent families.
Houston was especially close to CeCe and BeBe Winans and performed with both. She and CeCe Winans sang "Count on Me," for the movie "Waiting to Exhale," in which Houston starred.
In a show of support for the local community and in lieu of flowers, Houston's family asked that any donations in her memory be sent to the Whitney Houston Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, a public school in East Orange serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Houston attended the school as a girl, when it was named the Franklin School, and regularly visited for many years afterward. On Monday, students held an outdoor service in her memory.
Houston left behind one child, daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, 18, from her marriage to Brown.
Gov. Chris Christie ordered flags flown at half-staff Saturday at state government buildings, describing Houston as a "cultural icon" who belongs in the same category of New Jersey music history as Frank Sinatra, Count Basie and Bruce Springsteen.
"Her accomplishments were a great source of pride for the people of the state," he said.
Associated Press writers David Porter in Newark and Ryan Nakashima in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
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