New York fans recall Lennon 30 years after murder

Wed Dec 8, 2010 3:57pm EST
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By Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Crowds gathered around the "Imagine" mosaic in Central Park on the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's death on Wednesday, sharing his music and recalling when they first heard the former Beatle was shot.

Lennon was 40 when he was murdered outside his New York apartment on December 8, 1980. His killer, Mark David Chapman, is serving a prison sentence of 20 years to life.

"It came over the radio and me Mum just stopped what she was doing and burst into tears," said Jan Huntley, a Liverpool native on her honeymoon in New York. She said she was 8 years old and getting ready for school when they heard the news.

Around the "Imagine" mosaic in Strawberry Fields, a memorial to Lennon in Central Park, fans huddled in the cold, playing guitars and singing Beatles' songs.

"I love what he stood for. All he wanted in his life was peace," said Ranada Havard, a tourist from Louisiana. "All he wanted was to love his wife, love his children. But he lost it. People are still remembering 30 years later. It's great."

Even those who weren't born when Lennon died said they felt compelled to visit Strawberry Fields, across the street from Lennon's apartment building, to express their grief.

"I've been a Beatles fan all my life. I was raised on them," said 17-year-old Russell Schwartz of Farmingdale, New York. "Honestly, on the 30th anniversary, I couldn't miss the chance to honor a legend."

Lennon remains very much alive in the hearts of his fans, including the nearly 1.3 million visitors who expressed support on his Facebook page.   Continued...

<p>Mementos and flowers left by fans lay around the Imagine mosaic in the Strawberry Fields section of Central Park on the 30th anniversary of the death of former Beatle John Lennon in New York, December 8, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Segar</p>