NEWARK, NJ (CBSNewYork) — News of a private goodbye for Whitney Houston has many residents of her hometown disappointed. However, the superstar singer’s fans will be able to watch the funeral online, according to Houston’s publicist.
LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports
A memorial outside New Hope Baptist Church grew Wednesday as fans continued to leave balloons, flowers and notes. Houston’s funeral will be held there Saturday at noon. It holds just a few hundred people and attendance at the funeral will be by invitation only.
Though fans maybe not be able to hold a public farewell at the Prudential Center, publicist Kristen Foster said the Associated Press will stream the service live on livestream.com/aplive.
CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis reported that security for the funeral is expected to be monumental. Crowd control set-up began Wednesday outside the small Newark Church, where legions of Whitney fans are expected to line the sidewalks Saturday. The first metal barriers went up on Wednesday afternoon.
Many of the star’s famous friends will attend the funeral, but the VIP guest list is a closely guarded secret. The star’s ex-husband, Bobby Brown, says contrary to some reports, he is not banned from the service. He says he’ll be there with his daughter.
“Bobbi Kristina is doing much better. We continue to provide love and support to Bobbi Kristina. She is dealing with the tragedy of her mother’s death and would prefer to do it outside of the public eye,” Brown said in a statement to People Magazine.
Pastor Marvin Winans, who officiated Houston’s wedding to Brown in 1992, will travel to New Jersey from Detroit to deliver the eulogy.
“When she was here in November, she was at church. I did not know that was the last time I would see her,” Winans told CNN.
Across the country, in Beverly Hills, California, the investigation into Houston’s death continues. Her doctors are being subpoenaed for her medical and pharmacy records — a move considered routine.
At this point authorities have given no indication that illegal drugs are involved, but when asked directly, Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said he cannot confirm nor deny whether illegal drugs are part of the investigation.
Many fans were hoping to attend a large, public service at the Prudential Center. However, there will be no funeral procession, no video screen outside and no loud speakers as the public is expected to be kept at a distance.
“Whitney spent most of her time on the west coast,” said Joe Lemanski of Bound Brook. “Give us a chance to come home and give everyone here a chance to see her.”
The longtime principal of the Whitney E. Houston Academy of Creative and Performing Arts was shocked that there won’t be a public memorial for the singer.
“I couldn’t believe it. I really couldn’t believe it, but I think this is probably what Whitney would have wanted,” Henry Hamilton told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.
LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports
Hamilton has led the school for 41 years. He says Houston started there when she was 6-years-old.
A make-shift memorial of balloons and flowers has been set up in front of the school’s marble marker and fans have stopped by to pay tribute to the fallen super star.
“Whitney was a generous person and she was a blessing for Houston Academy,” said Hamilton.
Houston’s burial will likely be at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, the same cemetery where her father was buried in 2003.
The Houston family has asked that donations be made to the Houston Academy in lieu of flowers.
You can send them to:
215 Dodd Street
East Orange, NJ 07017
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