NEW YORK -- Some fans chronicled stories of chance street encounters with John Lennon. Others stood alone on the fringe of the growing crowd, soaking in the atmosphere.
With songs and music, hundreds of people gathered in Central Park's Strawberry Fields throughout the day Friday and early Saturday morning to commemorate the life of the musician, killed by a deranged fan 20 years ago.
"I'm sad a lot about his death," said John Hudy, 57, who drove from his Connecticut home to attend the vigil, as he has done every year since Lennon was killed. "But I'm not sad here tonight. Everyone is here for one purpose. There's no attitude -- no, there is an attitude, actually. It's such a positive attitude."
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani declined to waive the park's 1 a.m. curfew for the gathering, despite a personal appeal from the lord mayor of Liverpool, England, Lennon's hometown. Giuliani cited concerns for public safety.
Only 12 people were arrested -- 11 for marijuana possession and one for disorderly conduct, according to a police department spokesman.
Fans were still leaving the vigil more than an hour after the curfew but were doing so peacefully, the spokesman said.
On a cold day marked by swirling snow, people traveled from as far away as San Diego and Liverpool to join local Lennon fans.
"John's spirit is in this park," said Dave Reahle, 46, who drove overnight from his home of Warren, Ohio. "It's been a lifelong dream to come up here."
Shortly after arriving from upstate New York, Joe Andretti, 37, was leading the crowd in a sing-along of Lennon songs: "Imagine" and "Norwegian Wood."
By early afternoon, Andretti was joined by a full band and more than 200 fans were listening to the late rock star's music in a section of Central Park opposite the Dakota, the tony apartment building where Lennon was mortally wounded on Dec. 8, 1980.
Lennon's music wafted through Strawberry Fields, the section of the park renamed after his death for the hit Beatles' single. Around a mosaic with the word "IMAGINE," some fans left handwritten notes.
In Liverpool, an English Heritage plaque was unveiled Friday at the childhood home where the former Beatle taught himself to play the guitar.
Members of Lennon's family, childhood friends and Liverpool musicians attended the ceremony, which marked the first time a British pop musician has been honored with a Heritage plaque.
Lennon lived at the house with his Aunt Mimi from the age of 5, after his parents separated, until he was 23.
In Cleveland, Lennon fans packed into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to see a collection of memorabilia from his life. Among the items: Lennon's bloodstained glasses from the night he was shot.
"I'm an emergency room nurse, and when I saw the glasses, I had to walk away," said a tearful Cyndi Campbell of Pittsburgh.
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