By DUNSTAN PRIAL
NEW YORK — Unfazed by swirling snow and chilly temperatures, hardy John Lennon fans gathered today in Central Park to mark the 20th anniversary of the ex-Beatle’s death.
By late morning, about 50 fans were listening to the late singer’s music in Strawberry Fields, a section of the park opposite the apartment house where a deranged fan gunned him down Dec. 8, 1980.
"John’s spirit is in this park," said Dave Reahle, 46, who drove overnight from his home of Warren, Ohio. "It’s been a lifelong dream to come up here."
The crowd, which was expected to swell as the day went on, arranged candles to spell "J-O-H-N." Lennon’s music wafted through Strawberry Fields, which was renamed for the hit Beatles’ single after his death.
Around a mosaic with the word "IMAGINE," some fans left handwritten notes while others took turns keeping candles lighted despite the wet snow and wind.
Each year since Lennon’s death, fans have gathered in the park to remember the slain singer and his message of peace.
Fran Power, 34, flew in from Liverpool, England. Although there were ceremonies in Lennon’s hometown, Power felt this was the year to make the pilgrimage to New York.
"Out of respect," he said. "The music is timeless. It’s jumped generations."
Although the fans had hoped to keep the vigil going into Saturday, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani refused to waive the park’s curfew — despite a personal appeal from the lord mayor of Liverpool.
The crowd will have to leave the park by 1 a.m. Saturday.
Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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