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John Lennon tributes flow at Central Park Strawberry Fields on 35th anniversary of Beatle’s death

Hundreds of people gathered at the Strawberry Fields memorial to John Lennon in Central Park yesterday to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the musician’s death. More than one dozen guitarists strummed various Beatles ballads in unison around the floor mosaic that reads “Imagine,” as the surrounding crowd sang along for hours.

Many onlookers said they’d traveled from different parts of the United States, and some from different parts of the world, to attend the memorial. Hilario Garza, 29, and Zulema Perez, 28, traveled from Mexico to be there. “We planned our vacation trip to fall on this week,” Garza said.

Gene Cross, a 72-year-old retired actor and musician living in Midtown West, had been to three Beatles concerts. “You couldn’t see them, you couldn’t hear them — the girls were screaming so loud it was just ear piercing,” Cross said. “When Lennon died, it felt like I lost a brother — put it this way, I named my son after him,” he said.

Lorraine King, 60, from Pennsylvania, has been a Beatles fan since she was a child despite being born with a hearing impairment that has forced her to use a hearing aid. King said that she developed an appreciation for the group by reading the lyrics because she couldn’t hear the music. “As I got older, I read the lyrics and became motivated. I would sing them even though I’m off key.”

Karl Hamann, 60, traveled from Minnesota to see the memorial. “The ’60s shaped who I am in terms of being someone creative,” he said. “I’ve wanted to come for years and experience the moment with other people to honor what (Lennon) stood for, peace.”

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