Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thousands Gather in Central Park's Strawberry Fields To Celebrate John Lennon's 70th Birthday

People sing as they gather around the Imagine ...
October 9, 2010 - Attendees celebrating the late John Lennon's 70th birthday sang songs, placed flowers, notes, photographs and candles around the Imagine mosaic in Central Park's Strawberry Fields throughout the day and into the night. Photos: (Top) Tina Fineberg/AP:(Below) © Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on Images to enlarge.


By Geoffrey Croft

Thousands of fans of the late John Lennon from around the world paid their respects in Central Park's Strawberry fields on what would have been his seventieth birthday on Saturday. 

Attendees sang songs, placed flowers, notes, photographs, lit candles and reminisced. They gathered around the black and white circular marble Imagine mosaic near W. 72nd Street not far the Dakota apartments where the singer, his wife Yoko and son Sean lived.  The former Beatle and his family would visit Central Park often and walk on the very spot that now serves as a memorial to him.

On March 26, 1981, the City Council adopted legislation naming this area of Central Park Strawberry Field - named such after the popular 1967 Beatles song -  and designated a 2.5 acre landscape. 

Since its creation in 1985, Strawberry Fields has become a popular spot for Beatles fans to gather year–round. People also gathered there to mourn the loss of fellow Beatle George Harrison who died on November 29,  2001.  

On Saturday Lennon's first wife, Cynthia and, their son, Julian, unveiled a sculpture celebrating his life  in a park overlooking the River Mersey in the northwest English city of Liverpool where the singer-songwriter and his fellow Beatles were born. Hundreds of people gathered at the city centre's Chavasse Park to watch the pair cut a ribbon to reveal the statue,  called "Peace and Harmony." The sculpture, which features a colourful globe with doves flying above it, was designed by 19-year-old American artist Lauren Voiers. The sculpture was commissioned by a US arts organization, the Global Peace Initiative. The inscription reads 'Peace on Earth for the Conservation of Life. In Harmony of John Lennon 1940-1980.'

"We come here with our hearts to honour Dad and to pray for peace and say thank you to each and every one of you, and everybody involved in the celebrations today," said Julian Lennon, 47.

Lennon's widow,  Yoko Ono and former Beatles Drummer Ringo Star remembered  the late singer by attending the lighting of the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER in Reykjavik, Iceland. They participated in a benefit concert with son Sean.

By night fall fans had completely surrounded the  Imagine mosaic.   

Birthday well-wishers from around the world, old and young, sang and played Beatles songs throughout the day and into the night.  

Strawberry Fields,  located on the west side of Central Park near 72nd Street is a living tribute to singer,  songwriter,  and social activist John Lennon (1940–1980) who was was tragically murdered on December 8,  1980. This area of Central Park was named in 1981,  and the re-landscaped Strawberry Fields and was dedicated in 1985.

Both of Mr. Lennon's children, Julian and Sean attended the October 9, 1985 dedication ceremony on what would have been his  forty-fifth birthday, 

Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono attend the unveiling of the Strawberry Fields sign on October 9, 1985.  Photo by Daniel McPartlin
(L-R) Mayor Ed Koch, Sean Lennon, Henry Stern, Yoko Ono, and City Council president Andrew Stein attend the Strawberry Fields dedication on October 9, 1985, on what would have been the late Beatle's forty-fifth birthday. John Lennon's first son Julian also attended the ceremony. (Photo by Daniel McPartlin)

In 1984, Yoko Ono contributed $500,000 to redesign and renovate Strawberry Fields, and an equivalent amount for an ongoing maintenance endowment. Thanks in part to a donation by Lennon's widow landscape architect Bruce Kelly was able to oversee the area's renovation. Two highlights of the landscape, the Garden of Peace and the Imagine monument, were created during this period of improvement (1984-1985).

Strawberry Fields is located just yards away from John Lennon and Yoko Ono's home, the Dakota Apartments, where Lennon was shot on December 8, 1980.

Using Yoko Ono's 1984 funding for the improvement of Strawberry Fields, Bruce Kelly designed the Garden of Peace. This contemplative space, fashioned in harmony with the original vision of Central Park creators Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, abounds with shrubs, trees, flowers, and rocks donated by 150 nations around the world.

As part of the Garden of Peace constructed during the 1984 repairs and developments, Neopolitan artisans crafted a circular black and white marble mosaic impressed with the word "Imagine" at its center and donated it to the park.

Read/View More:

Beatles Fans Celebrate John Lennon's 70th Birthday

DNAinfo -  October 10, -  Della Hasselle

Associated Press - October 9, 2010 - By Verena Dobnik 

Strawberry Fields Forever
The Huffington Post - October 12, 2010 - By Henry J. Stern

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