Concerts in the Park: gathering under the great wide open

With beach balls tossed in the air, park goers kept up with the entertainment provided by The Pettybreakers. Ryan Mancini/The Signal

Emotions were high as The Pettybreakers performed at the penultimate Concerts in the Park Saturday night.

“It’s been a beautiful evening,” said guest Maggie Liming, who sat with her husband Ken, grandson Ethan and their dog Charlie.

Guests spanned across multiple fields in Central Park, sitting on towels and foldable chairs as The Pettybreakers took to the stage and brought familiarity and fun for all ages. Not long after it began, some attendees gathered in the mosh pit, dancing with wives, husbands, parents and children.

There were cheers and applause after the band performed one hit after another from the late rock musician Tom Petty. Some of those songs included “Into the Great Wide Open,” “Here Comes My Girl,” “Breakdown,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and “Refugee.”

The Pettybreakers performed other tunes that had some relation to Petty’s career. One was “Handle With Care,” one of many songs Petty collaborated on with The Traveling Wilburys, a band consisting of other music legends like George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne. Severo Jornacion from The Smithereens also appeared on stage to perform their song “Blood and Roses,” giving it a Petty-esque sound.

Jornacion performed ahead of some of Petty’s concerts in recent years.

While guests had fun with each song, the music and lyrics hit hard.

“It hurts to hear a lot of this,” said Michelle Hughes, who went with her husband Kevin and dog Echo, named after Petty’s 10th studio album. “We’ve seen him in concert 10
times. We had to go to this one.”

The night concluded with a rousing performance of “American Girl.”

“I love it,” said Ethan Liming. “It’s my favorite adventure.”

Concerts in the Park will conclude next Saturday, Aug. 25, with a performance by 40 oz. to Freedom, a tribute act for the band Sublime. The music starts at 7 p.m.

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