Florida to Honor Tom Petty with Historical Marker

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On October 2, 2017, the residents of Gainesville, Fla., lost a hometown hero, Tom Petty.

Now, the Florida Historical Marker Council has voted to erect a metal plaque to honor the city’s native son. A ceremony to unveil the marker will take place on October 20, the classic rock legend’s birthday.

The August 2, 2019, decision by the Council will be the second time Petty will be honored in Gainesville. In the months following his passing, residents 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, 2018, “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.

Though a concert or music festival garnered the most votes with 41%, the city decided to proceed with the third choice. “Renaming a park or facility” earned 28% of the votes and the city of Gainesville honored its native son on his birthday, October 20, 2018, when it renamed Northeast Park on 16th Ave. to Tom Petty Park.

The marker honoring Petty will be installed in the park.

“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.

“We were there a lot – it was like an extension of our yard,” recalled Petty’s younger, Bruce, about the park to Gainesville’s WUFT-TV. “We could literally walk past four houses, cross 16th, then we were there.”

A Tom Petty weekend was held on October 18-20, 2018, at the Heartwood Soundstage in Gainesville with such bands as Free Fallin and the Bayjacks, which features Tom Leadon of Petty’s earlier band, Mudcrutch.

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

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

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”

Related: Tom Petty’s final concert

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

    Man, I miss this guy!

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