Henri thwarts Central Park concert hailing NYC virus rebound

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2021 Invision

Concertgoers exit The Great Lawn in Central Park after organizers cancel the We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert due to approaching thunderstorms on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

NEW YORK – A superstar-laden Central Park concert meant to celebrate New York City’s recovery from the coronavirus was cut short because of severe weather as Hurricane Henri approached.

Officials asked concert-goers to leave the park during Barry Manilow’s set amid the threat of lightning. New York City police on Saturday night told concertgoers via Twitter to “calmly move to the nearest exits and proceed to areas outside of the park. This is NOT an emergency."

After some confusion over whether the concert might resume, Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted, “While it’s disappointing that tonight’s concert had to end early, the safety of everyone in attendance had to come first.”

The highly promoted “Homecoming Concert” featured Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Jennifer Hudson, Carlos Santana, LL Cool J and Andrea Bocelli among the performers.

Saturday's event came after a series of hip-hop concerts in the last week at outdoor venues around the city.

The concert kicked off amid worries about the contagious delta variant of COVID-19.

New York City over the past week has averaged just under 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 a day, according to state statistics. That’s up from just under 200 cases per day in late June. Only about 54% of all city residents are fully vaccinated against the virus.

Those who attended the concert, the majority of tickets for which were handed out for free, had to show proof of vaccination.