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UPDATED: Hundreds honor Huell Howser at Griffith Observatory (Video, photos)

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UPDATE 5:31 p.m. Following Councilman TomLaBonge's remarks, he cued the sound guy to play Huell Howser's "California, Here I Come" (more on that below), at which point LaBonge ran around the stage shaking hands with people and patting them on the back. He helped lead a singalong to the song, and when it ended yelled to the sound guy to play it again.

The crowd at the event was around 300 to 400 people.

KCET president Al Jerome shared a personal story about working with Howser. Other speakers included "city astronomer" Ed Krupp, a representative from Congresswoman Janice Hahn's office and others. There were also statements read from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

UPDATE 5:02 p.m. Councilman Tom LaBonge, cultural historian Charles Phoenix and other dignitaries closed the ceremony by leading the crowd in a singalong of "California, Here I Come" (which was used as the theme song for Howser's "California's Gold"):

They were singing along with Huell's recording of the song. Watch and listen to his rendition below:

UPDATE 4:42 p.m. Watch this video from NBC L.A. offering an overhead view of the crowd gathered to pay their respects to Huell Howser:

The LAPD airship did a flyby in honor of Huell. Southern California cultural historian Charles Phoenix also spoke.

The event is scheduled to end with Huell Howser's recording of "California, Here I Come."

UPDATE 4:17 p.m. Check out a panoramic photo of the memorial taken by KPCC's Kevin Ferguson below:

Chapman University has set up a video camera for those at the memorial to give video testimonials about Huell.

UPDATE 4:03 p.m. The crowd at the memorial continued to grow. Two women who KPCC spoke to drove from Palmdale for the event.

Another man at the memorial named his third son "Huell."

Earlier:

Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge is hosting a public memorial for the late "California's Gold" TV host Huell Howser Tuesday at the Griffith Observatory.

There were already around 150 people at the event by 3:30 p.m.

"Huell had a tremendous enthusiasm for California landmarks like the Griffith Observatory," LaBonge said in a press release. LaBonge was sworn into office by Howser in 2001. "And now we must say goodbye to our own California landmark, Huell Howser."

Howser had previously told friends he didn't want a funeral or memorial service, though LaBonge's event has been dubbed a "sunset salute."

RELATED: Photos: Touring the Huell Howser collection at Chapman University

Howser died Jan. 7 at his Palm Springs home at 67 years old. The native Tennessean became a popular personality thanks to his genuine enthusiasm and distinct Tennessee accent. For 19 years on "California's Gold," he traveled the state and took viewers into some of the little-seen parts of California. He also hosted "Visiting with Huell Howser."

Howser was a U.S. Marine and an aide to former U.S. Sen. Howard Baker before starting his career in television.

Photos by KPCC's Kevin Ferguson

With contributions by KPCC wire services

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