NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Saturday was the conclusion of New York City’s Homecoming Week, ending with “We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert,” but the big finale was cut short due to severe weather as Hurricane Henri approached the region.
As CBS2’s Cory James reports, the concert was expected to last for about five hours, but Mother Nature cut it short, giving people who waited in line for hours only two and a half hours of entertainment.READ MORE: The 3 'Fates' Of 'Hadestown' Reflect On Broadway's Return And Their Love For NYC's Theater Community
What was supposed to be a fun and long night for people at Central Park ended sooner than planned after lightning struck during Barry Manilow’s performance.
“I just kept saying, ‘No, no.’ Like really, I’m kind of crazy about Barry Manilow and I just, like, fought my way to the front,” concert-goer Christen Clifford said.
#BREAKING: #NYChomecomingconcert cancelled after lightning hit during @barrymanilow’s performance. 22,000+ people now being asked to leave @CentralParkNYC. More at 9 & 11 @CBSNewYork pic.twitter.com/Lt3VsyZJ9y
— Cory James (@CoryJamesTV) August 22, 2021
It forced event organizers to quickly end the concert, sending more than 22,000 concert-goers who danced and partied on the Great Lawn home early Saturday night.
“Extremely frustrating. I was in denial. I said, ‘It’s not over,'” one concert-goer said.
“I felt really upset,” another concert-goer said.
But before the severe weather touched down, excitement could be seen and heard from many who waited months for this moment.
“This is the first concert we have in, what, over a year,” Long Island resident Gniescka Lowczyk said.
“I’m just happy to be out,” Brooklyn resident Frauke Weston said.READ MORE: New Musical 'Six' Back On Stage After Pandemic Forced Broadway's Closure On Opening Night
“I just bought a shirt, thought it’d be a good way to remember the day,” Brooklyn resident Ryan Joel said.
“It’s just nice to celebrate being vaccinated, even though cases are really high right now,” Upper West Side resident Stephanie Pearl said.
That’s why Giulia Turokyioamaz, of the Upper East Side, kept her face mask on during the concert. She told CBS2 she had COVID before and does not want it again.
“It’s just an extra precaution, just to be sure,” she said.
We were glad to see you at the #WeLoveNYCConcert, even though we had to wrap up early due to weather!
Thank you to the #CentralParkConservancy staff & volunteers who helped make the Great Lawn a setting like no other, & to our visitors, whose involvement helps the Park thrive! pic.twitter.com/C5qqdDmNt6
— Central Park (@CentralParkNYC) August 22, 2021
Still, despite the dangerous weather conditions that canceled the star-studded show, New Yorkers who were able to make it out say it was worth every minute spent in line because for them, it was more than seeing artists like Jennifer H udson, Kane Brown and Andrea Bocelli; it was also a reminder of how far we have come since the start of the pandemic.
“It was nice to feel the energy of New York back,” said Frayda Resmick, of the Upper East Side.
“All about moving forward from 2021 to 2022,” said Monica Elvira, of the Upper East Side.
CBS2 reached out to the city to see if any refunds would be given to those who bought VIP tickets, but so far, we have not heard back.MORE NEWS: A Closer Look At This Year's Best Musical Nominees: 'Moulin Rouge', 'Tina' And 'Jagged Little Pill'
Editor’s Note: This story was published Aug. 22.