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John Lennon

John Lennon Statue Celebrates Ten Years in Downtown Tampa

| Vicky Sullivan |

John Lennon left the world tragically on December 8, 1980.  Since then, there have been many tributes to John all over the world in various art forms. Of course, the most famous tribute being Strawberry Fields in New York City’s Central Park with the Imagine mosaic.  Thousands of people from around the world come and pay respects to John there as his ashes were scattered in that area of Central Park.  The fans of Lennon and The Beatles gather to play his music and sing his many songs such as “Imagine” that were written by John and Beatles tunes with his songwriting partner, Paul McCartney.

John Lennon

In Liverpool, England there are several tributes to Lennon, starting with the John Lennon Airport which features a 7-foot tall statue of John.  Yoko Ono attended the ceremony naming the airport after Lennon in 2001.  There is also a statue of John in front of the infamous Cavern Club where the Beatles got their musical start in England.  Liverpool is also host to an actual “Hard Day’s Night Hotel” for the ultimate Beatles fan trip.  There are statues of all of the fab four, John, Paul, George and Ringo located around the hotel.  London also has places where John lived, Abbey Road and many Beatles sites to tour.

In Iceland, there is the “Imagine Peace Tower” that was designed by Yoko Ono in 2007.  A white stone monument that has the words “Imagine Peace” carved into it 24 languages, the blue lights shine every night from 8 p.m. to Midnight and other holidays. For more information you can go the website. In Prague, Czech Republic, there is a “Lennon Wall” of artwork and graffiti that has been popular for years.  Hong Kong also has a “Lennon Wall” erected in 2014; people leave messages of pro-democracy on Post-It notes of all colors all over the wall.

John Lennon

Much to my surprise while visiting Washington D.C. a few years ago, I saw a full size bronze statue of Lennon.  He stands at the top of the hallway to the restrooms at the Hard Rock Café located at 999 E Street NW in D.C.  Be sure to check it out if you are in the nation’s capital.   I have tried desperately to find out who the artist is that created this beautiful statue to no avail.

This brings us to the most interesting statue, which is in John Lennon Park in Havana, Cuba! A bronze statue sitting on a park bench, many famous people have sat with Mr. Lennon on the bench.  Most recently was England’s King Charles and Queen Camilla in 2017 on a trip to Cuba.  Beatles producer and John’s friend, George Martin has sat with on the bench with John.  The late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro also visited the park and was photographed next to the bench.  There is an inscription on the bench that says in Spanish “You Can Say That I’m A Dreamer, But I’m Not the Only One.”  The statue was unveiled in 2000 for the 20th Anniversary of John’s death.  The artist that created the sculpture is Jose Villa Soberon who created it by winning a contest.  Unfortunately, the original glasses that were made on the statue have been stolen over the years.

John Lennon

Mr. Villa Soberon also created the John Lennon that stands in downtown Tampa! The Lennon statue is a replica of John walking across Abbey Road. The story goes that a collector in Colorado saw the sculpture in Havana and commissioned Villa Soberon to make one of Lennon for his garden.  Somehow, it ended up at auction and the owner of the Barrymore Hotel purchased the sculpture in 2014 and erected at the entrance to the hotel, which is behind the Straz Center for the Performing Arts on Tampa’s Hillsborough River.   Tampa’s John Lennon statue has the same issue as his Havana counterpart with his glasses being stolen over the years.  So if you go to take a pic with John’s statue, be sure to bring a pair of John’s signature round glasses with you!

Vicky Sullivan Photos

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