Tom Petty’s Florida Hometown to Honor its Native Son

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On Oct. 2, 2017, the residents of Gainesville, Fla., lost a hometown hero, Tom Petty. In the months since his passing, residents have requested that the city find a way to publicly honor Petty in a lasting and meaningful way. To fulfill this request, said the city in a press release posted on its website on March 15, “We are seeking feedback from the community.

“The Strategic Initiatives and Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs (PRCA) Departments have taken initial feedback and reviewed the options for memorializing Petty,” the announcement said.

A free, two-day birthday bash has been organized for Oct. 19-20 at the city’s Depot Park, that will feature “a musical festival celebrating the life and legacy of Tom Petty through diverse musical performances, art and community engagement.” The area was memorialized in a 1975 single, “Depot Street,” by Heartbreakers precursor Mudcrutch.

“18+” bands are scheduled to perform across the event’s two days, including Heavy Petty and Mudpies, two of the city’s own Petty tribute bands.

In the original March 15 announcement, city officials had identified several alternatives to honor its native son:

renaming a city street;

renaming a city park or facility;

adding a statue to a city park or facility;

hosting an annual concert or music festival;

proclaiming his birthday, Oct. 20, as Tom Petty Day or

dedicating the month of October to his musical legacy and celebrating the local music culture.

“The response to Tom Petty’s passing has been very strong, which is understandable given the great love this community has for him. He has made a lasting impact on our culture, and the city wishes to help remember his legacy in a meaningful way,” said Steve Phillips, director for PRCA.

Nearly 2,000 Gainesville residents voted for their choice, with the majority saying that an annual concert, statue or park would be the most appropriate way to honor Petty beyond this year’s birthday bash.  As the Gainesville Sun reported, city commissioners will make their decision, at an upcoming meeting.

Related: The story behind Petty’s “American Girl”

The survey results will provide guidance for the city to move forward with planning and budgets. The proposed timeline is to have the selected project ready or in progress by October, to commemorate the anniversary of Petty’s passing.

Petty died Oct. 2, 2017, one week to the day after completing a 40th anniversary concert tour with the Heartbreakers.

Watch Tom Petty cover the Byrds’ “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”

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  1. Jack
    #1 Jack 29 March, 2018, 00:05

    Man, I miss this guy!

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