Music, tributes and anti-vax protests: New York’s Homecoming concert kicks off
- We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert opened on Saturday in Central Park
- The concert is designed to mark a comeback for New York City
- The concert caps off a week-long celebration of the city’s reopening
Designed to mark a comeback for New York City that has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic, the We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert opened on Saturday in Central Park with a pre-recorded video featuring stars like Stephen Colbert and Sara Bareilles delivering a rendition of "New York State of Mind."
The concert caps off a week-long celebration of the city’s reopening, which consisted of live concerts, free movie screenings, Restaurant Week, cultural activities and more.
Attendees were treated to a musical montage of New York affiliated artists and entertainers, including Broadway star Idina Menzel and award-winning actress Laura Dern, serenading the Big Apple with the Billy Joel tune during the concert's pre-show.
The outdoor gathering required attendees to be vaccinated or show a negative test result amid concerns about the COVID-19 Delta variant. However, masks weren't mandatory.
"This is a celebration of our city, of every working family who faced incredible challenges last year and overcame," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement last month when details about the concert were announced, according to a Hollywood Reporter report. "This is a celebration for you."
However, the grand spectacle inside Central Park was somewhat barred by anti-vaccine protestors outside the entrance. They gathered wearing yellow stars on their clothes, which Holocaust survivors, historians, and academics have heavily criticised, according to Hollywood Reporter inputs.
Such stars were used by the Nazi German government to identify Jews during the Holocaust, the symbol has been appropriated by the anti-vaccination movement, which inaccurately likens vaccine mandates to antisemitic persecution during World War II.
Meanwhile, among the big-name performers slated to perform at the event were Bruce Springsteen, Carlos Santana, Paul Simon, LL Cool J, Elvis Costello, Barry Manilow, Jennifer Hudson, The Killers, Andrea Bocelli, Jimmy Fallon, Cynthia Erivo, Julia Michaels, and Earth, Wind & Fire.
A sequence of pictures and visuals of New York filled the screens behind the stage for each performance. As the music progressed, blue and white beach balls and large yellow balloons with happy faces bounced about the audience.