I happen to be in New York at the moment for the New York Comic-Con and a speaking engagement. By coincidence this also meant I was in town on October 9th, the day that would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday. No matter what else was happening I was determined to pay my respects at Strawberry Filed.
I am glad I made the effort, because yesterday evening turned out to be an evening I'll never forget.
It was a long walk from my hotel down to 72nd street (about 43 blocks). When I arrived at the Dakota building, Lennon's old home and the site of his assassination, there were just a few small groups of people standing around in quite contemplation, some laying floral tributes. But mainly an atmosphere of sadness and respect. There was a surreal moment when a car drove past and the sound of a Lennon song drifted across from its stereo system. Hearing John's voice while stood at that infamous spot seemed almost ghostly.
After a few minutes I crossed the street and headed into Strawberry Fields. The next two hours were amazing. The crowd around the IMAGINE circle was around 15 to 20 people deep. Everyone was singing. I stayed for two hours as we all sang Lennon songs, or laughed when people cracked jokes. It was a joyous, magical and moving celebration of John Lennon's legacy. The crowd kept getting bigger and bigger until the whole of the Strawberry Fields area was a solid mass of people. There was every age group from 7 year olds to 70 year-olds, along with a cornucopia of accents and languages - including the lady next to me who was using her cell phone to transmit the proceedings back to her family in Russia.
Here's a short video clip I shot from my cell phone of the crowd singing "IMAGINE". - It gives just a small hint of what the event was like.
As a friend wrote on Facebook after seeing that clip: Wherever John is now, he must think this is amazing.
Personally I just feel blessed that I happened to be in new York on this particular weekend and had the once in a life-time opportunity to be involved in something to mark the life and works of a man who had such a great impact on me personally and on society in general.