A star-studded concert in New York City lasted almost three hours before a quick-moving thunderstorm reportedly dropped lightning near Central Park.
Thousands of spectators filling the park for "We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert" were asked to evacuate around 7:35 p.m. over lightning and other severe weather concerns. Sources said the mayor had hoped to restart performances by 10 p.m. but they never did. Mayor Bill de Blasio later announced on Twitter that, "the safety of everyone in attendance had to come first."
Announcements were repeated over loudspeakers asking the audience to calmly leave and find shelter from potentially severe weather. Conflicting messages from organizers and the mayor left ticket holders wondering if the show would go on.
Barry Manilow took the stage to sing "Copacabana" when the weather took a turn and prompted the evacuation order from organizers.
No injuries have been reported from the lightning and severe weather. According to the National Weather Service, nearly 4 inches of rain fell Saturday night in Central Park, with 1.69 inches between 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Many wondered if weather would cancel the concert hours before Hurricane Henri's expected to move into the tri-state. De Blasio had tweeted earlier in the afternoon that "the show will go on" if there were no significant changes in the forecast.
The Central Park concert, which kicked off at 5 p.m., was the finale of the city's homecoming week to celebrate its ongoing recovery from the pandemic. The "We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert" caps a week chockful of concerts in every borough.
At this point, Storm Team 4 expects the full impact from Henri to roll in after midnight. Ultimately, up to 6 inches of rain could fall in parts of northern Queens and Bronx by the time the system moves out, the mayor has said. Long Island is expected to be hit directly. The city is now outside the cone of concern.
The concert series aimed at celebrating the city's progress in the COVID-19 pandemic has played to all-vaccinated crowds since Monday. The concerts were meant as a sort of "New York City is back" message to the world, and some of the city's favorite icons have performed.
Tickets have been free for the general public, but are sold out ahead of Saturday's concert. VIP tickets are up for sale but run several hundred dollars, at the cheapest price point.
Ticketholders had to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination for entry, but the city says masks were optional since the event is outdoors.
Here Are the Confirmed Performers at the Central Park Concert on Aug. 21 at 5 p.m.:
- Jon Batiste
- Andrea Bocelli
- Kane Brown
- LL COOL J
- Elvis Costello
- Lucky Daye
- Earth, Wind & Fire
- Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds
- Cynthia Erivo
- Jimmy Fallon
- Jennifer Hudson
- Wyclef Jean
- The Killers
- Gayle King
- Don Lemon
- Barry Manilow
- The New York Philharmonic
- Polo G
- Carlos Santana
- Paul Simon
- Patti Smith
- Bruce Springsteen
- Rob Thomas