Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina, 18, appeared at the private viewing. It was the first time she saw her mother since she died.
Security was very tight around the funeral home in order to give the family privacy. Police closed down Martin Luther King Boulevard. Near the funeral home fans were not allowed near the inner perimeter that had been been set up around the church, 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reported.
The service inside was said to be sad, but at the same time celebratory, with Houston dressed in all white, her slender body not in a coffin, but fully displayed for family and friends who were sworn to secrecy.
“We want to keep it more peaceful and keep it quiet, and keep love and understanding and let’s keep the ministry of the music and what she meant,” family friend Steven Kahn told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.
As three limos pulled out of the funeral home with a police escort fans were pushed away and moved up the street behind barricades. According to CBS 2’s Christine Sloan, that’s when tempers started to flare.
“I’m a taxpayer in the city … born and raised in this city … They should stop treating us like animals. We’re taxpayers … We made this lady who she is today,” resident Floyd Bishop said.
“Cissy Houston should come out and wave to us and say thank you. She shouldn’t have them keep us away. We bought her music. We helped succeed in what she had done over the years,” added Charlene Williams.
“Taxpayers paying for all this, treating us like we’re from the street or something. Make no sense,” resident Shawn Holsted said.
Because of the Houston family’s request for privacy police have had no choice but to keep the crowds away. Many fans understood.
“She came back to her home and we love her for that,” Carol Ray said.
“We would like closer … We are here to honor her memory … She’s from Newark and East Orange so everybody knows and we want to give her that respect,” Estelle Buchanan said.
Later, the Houston family funeral director, Carolyn Whigham, hand-delivered a small, colorful brochure on the life of Houston to those that had gathered — a token of thanks for disappointed fans.
“C’mon fans, thank you, you’re more than welcome. This is what Whigham Funeral Home is doing on behalf, I believe, in giving,” she said.
Earlier Friday, fans were able to share their memories of Whitney Houston in a condolence book.
Following the private service on Saturday, Houston will be laid to rest at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield next to her father, John Russell Houston Jr., who was buried there in 2003.
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Fans and childhood friends who won’t be attending the funeral have been leaving heartfelt messages of sympathy outside the funeral home.
“It’s the least that I could do for her, just to say goodbye,” said fan Simone Mercury. “My last final goodbyes to her.”
The throngs of fans being kept out of the private funeral are people who traveled here from near and far, reports CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.
“Greatest singer in the world as far as I’m concerned. The least I could do, really, is come here and pay my respects,” said Peter Chamberlain of England.
“She will always be present in our hearts and so special,” added Sarah Brinson of Bed Stuy, Brooklyn.
Houston’s funeral will be a who’s who of Hollywood. Among the invited celebrities is Kevin Costner, who co-starred with the singer in “The Bodyguard,” her mentor Clive Davis, Elton John, Oprah Winfrey, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Dionne Warwick, Chaka Khan, and Houston’s Ex Husband, Bobby Brown.
Houston’s godmother, Aretha Franklin, is expected to sing. On Friday night, while pleasing a packed crowd inside Radio City Music Hall, the “Queen of Soul” sat behind a piano and gave a touching and heartfelt tribute to her goddaughter with her rendition of “I Will Always Love You,” reports CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez.
Franklin will continue her emotional dedication at Houston’s funeral Saturday at the request Houston’s mother, Cissy.
The pastor of New Hope Baptist Church said the service will be similar to what Houston experienced as a child singing in the choir.
“This is a church and we’re going to have some church in the celebration,” said Pastor Joe A. Carter.
It’s a celebration that will steer clear of the cloud that engulfed Houston in recent years.
There is new video of a disheveled looking Houston outside a Los Angeles nightclub last Thursday and reports of hard partying at the Beverly Hilton, with the star drinking heavily as early as 10 a.m. on the Saturday before she died.
Police are looking at surveillance tapes and have subpoenaed Houston’s doctors.
A cause of death is listed as “deferred” for now, pending toxicology reports.
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