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"Tom Petty Weekend" Celebrated In Home Town Of Gainesville, Fla.
This weekend the town of Gainesville, Fla., observed a "Tom Petty Weekend" filled with remembrance of the rock icon, who grew up a block away from what was formerly known as Northeast Park. Born on Oct. 20, 1950, Petty passed away on Oct. 2, 2017. Among the weekend's festivities, on Saturday — the day Petty would have turned 68 — his boyhood get-away was officially renamed "Tom Petty Park."
"My brother and I grew up in this park," said his younger brother Bruce. "We played as kids. My cousin reminded me the other day of my remark that it was a sanctuary, and it really was."
At another one of Gainesville's public spaces — Depot Park — "The Tom Petty Birthday Bash" sparked memories as bands celebrated the singer/songwriter's extensive catalog, raising funds benefiting the University of Florida's Arts In Medicine Program. Additionaly, local artists painted an 8' x 8' mural of Petty on a wall at the elementary school he attended and reproduced the mural on canvas for auction.
"Gainesville is an extraordinary place and if you listen to my dad's music here, it has a different meaning," said his daughter Adria. "The idea of the air smelling good and the trees are green — there is nothing like this park to really illustrate that."
On Friday and Saturday, local venue Heartwood Soundstage observed "Tom Petty Weekend" with performances by 14 bands, including the Bayjacks, which features Petty's former Mudcrutch bandmate Tom Leadon.
Other observances included artisanal beers brewed for the occasion and special tours by History Bike Gainesville. A testament to the power of Petty's music to unite, the town spent "Tom Petty Weekend" embodying the joy he created, together.