Fans bid farewell to Huell Howser

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Hundreds gathered Tuesday to celebrate and remember the life of television host Huell Howser at Griffith Observatory just before sunset Tuesday afternoon.

L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge arranged the memorial for Howser, who died last week at 67, and who became a California household name in three decades of exploring the state’s people and places in his homespun television shows.

Tuesday’s gathering featured a lineup of speeches, from the director of the observatory, the executive director of the Los Angeles Conservancy, pop culture historian Charles Phoenix and others. As the sun began sinking just before 5 p.m., an LAPD helicopter circled in a salute.

Then Howser’s voice suddenly boomed from the speakers, singing “California, Here I Come.”LaBonge asked everyone to sing along, and they did. As the song played again and again, people joined him, singing and dancing on the observatory steps.

It was heartfelt. It was hokey. It felt just right.

Everyone thought they knew what Howser would have said if he’d seen it.

“Oh my gosh!” they could practically hear him. “That’s amaaaaaazing!”