Tom Petty‘s family and friends were among the hundreds in attendance at a ceremony on Saturday, 20 October, to rename a Gainesville, Florida park after the late rock legend.
The ceremony, which took place on what would have been Petty’s 68th birthday, was one of a number of Petty events this weekend in the Florida city where the Heartbreakers bandleader was born and raised.
On Saturday, Petty’s daughter Adria Petty and brother Bruce Petty spoke to the crowd at Gainesville’s Northeast Park, which was renamed Tom Petty Park at the dedication ceremony. Petty had frequented the park often as a child.
“My brother and I grew up in this park. We played as kids. My cousin reminded me the other day of my remark that it was a sanctuary, and it really was,” Bruce Petty told the Gainesville Sun. “It was a place for us to escape and be kids and have fun. The fact that we are doing this today and the part that we played in it makes it so much more special.”
Adria Petty spoke about the newly released song ‘Gainesville,’ which was part of the posthumous An American Treasure box set.
“Gainesville is an extraordinary place and if you listen to my dad’s music here, it has a different meaning. The idea of the air smelling good and the trees are green — there is nothing like this park to really illustrate that,” she said. “‘Gainesville’ has been blasting in my head since I landed … It’s a very important town to Florida. Florida is a really beautiful and complex state and (Gainesville) fosters a lot of intelligence and compassion and incredible manners and incredible decency.”
The park renaming was one event in a week of celebrations dubbed Tom Petty Weekend in the Florida city; Tom Leadon of Mudcrutch, Petty’s early project that he revived in the years before his death, headlined a pair of Gainesville performances with his band the Bayjacks, the Gainesville Sun reported.
In addition, Local artists Carrie and Jesus Martinez painted a Tom Petty Mural at the Sidney Lanier Center, the elementary school Petty attended. They were asked to paint an 8-by-8-foot mural on canvas that was auctioned Saturday night to benefit the UF program.
“We hope to make a lot of money for a really good cause,” Carrie Martinez said. “We’re Tom Petty fans. Everybody is a Tom Petty fan.”
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