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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

‘Runnin’ Down a Dream’: Tom Petty is getting a park named after him

<p dir="ltr"><span>A mural dedicated to Gainesville native Tom Petty appeared on the 34th Street Wall in Gainesville, Florida following the death of the musician.</span></p>

A mural dedicated to Gainesville native Tom Petty appeared on the 34th Street Wall in Gainesville, Florida following the death of the musician.

Tom Petty’s legacy will be memorialized in a Gainesville park next month.

The Northeast Park, at 400 NE 16th Ave., is set to be renamed in honor of Tom Petty, said Gainesville City Commissioner David Arreola. An announcement will be made at 1:30 p.m. on Petty’s birthday, Oct. 20, at the park.

In March, the city of Gainesville offered a survey to residents asking how to best commemorate Petty, who is from Gainesville. Petty passed away last October due to an accidental drug overdose.

The six survey options included renaming a city street, facility or park; adding a statue to the city; hosting an annual musical festival; declaring Oct. 20 as “Tom Petty Day” or dedicating the month of October to his legacy in music.

“When Tom Petty passed away, the community at large here in Gainesville obviously had a serious mourning,” Arreola said. “He meant a lot to this city, to the people here, and they wanted something for the city to do in remembrance.”

Daniel App, a 32-year-old Gainesville resident, was 5 years old when he heard the car radio blast “American Girl,” App’s first Petty song, while his mother drove him to his elementary school in Osten, Florida.

Twenty-seven years later, he became the co-founder and lead guitarist of Heavy Petty, a Petty tribute band that plays the artist’s songs, App said.

Renaming the park is a nice gesture, but there’s more than statues and buildings when it comes to commemorating an important figure, App said.

“The importance is not some superficial way of memorializing someone,” App said. “It’s genuinely to understand them, their history, their legacy.”

Outside of a physical commemoration, App believes the best way to carry out Petty’s legacy is to pass on the stories of his life and play his music.

“Pass the torch, expose everybody to the music that he played, and get excited about it,” App said. “I think it’s amazing what people can do.”

Contact Dana Cassidy at dcassidy@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter at @danacassidy_

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Correction: The renaming of the park will take place at 1:30 p.m., not the time initially noted by Gainesville City Commissioner David Arreola.

A mural dedicated to Gainesville native Tom Petty appeared on the 34th Street Wall in Gainesville, Florida following the death of the musician.

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