SAN FRANCISCO - Thousands of people packed San Francisco's Golden Gate Park for the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Summer of Love, that included a spectacular light show Wednesday and a free four-hour concert featuring many of the legendary band members who helped change music history in 1967.
The lawn in front of the iconic San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers was filled with a people sporting tie-dye t-shirts, flowers in their hair, and colorful outfits in homage to the styles of the Sixties.
"Fifty years ago people came here to express themselves and to form community at a really important time in our city's history and we are connecting past to present tonight," said Phil Ginsburg, the director of the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, which helped sponsor the event.
For some, it was an emotional moment to reflect and remember.
"It was a renaissance time, everything was new. Everything was spectacular and fun," said Rusty Goldman, a San Francisco native who showed up in a top hat and colorful glasses.
"I felt like I was in paradise, happy paradise, with all the music, and all the happy people and all the colors and the great weather and the smiles," said Eleanor Levine of San Francisco.
The 1967 Summer of Love brought people from around the world together to San Francisco, and Golden Gate Park and Haight Ashbury became a mecca for music and art.
It was an awakening of a generation.
Fifty years later, the free concert brought many of those music legends and their fans back. Performing on stage were members of Jefferson Airplane, the Chambers Brothers, Moonalice, ALO, Ratdog, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Tarnation, Katdelic, Terrapin Family Band, New Monsoon, and Motherhips, among others.
Steve Parish was the Grateful Dead's road manager, and said on this 50th anniversary celebration, it was a tribute also to artists such as Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, concert promoter Bill Graham, and others whose spirits live on.
"They would be honored," said Steve Parish, the Grateful Dead's road manager, "Jerry always said anything that gives you pride in what we did...we love it... and everyone on each other's shoulders."
Pete Sears with Jefferson Starship performed for the crowd, remembering an era that changed history
"It really resonated, people really questioning authority and questioning the war in Vietnam," said Sears.
Ben Fong Torres, the music critic and former Rolling Stones editor helped emcee the concert and said the Summer of Love created a revolution in the music business.
"The music generated by the Summer of Love and many of these musicians...signified a change in attitude towards music itself, the music industry," said Fong Torres.
For younger generations who attended the anniversary celebration, it was a chance to share in the love.
Alvaro and Emily Ramirez flew in from Maui with their own flower child, three month old baby boy Mosaic, to join their friends for the celebration.
"San Francisco Pride is this Saturday and when this came up we changed our flight to come here for this moment," said Alvaro Ramirez.
"I love the music, the style the freedom, that everybody was experiencing at the time." Michele DeBello who came into the city from Fairfax.
Donna Ewald Huggins of San Rafael showed up with her Summer of Love Rolls Royce covered in flowers, artwork, concert posters and autographs from iconic stars such as Jimi Hendrix.
By nightfall, the crowd watched as the Conservatory of Flowers was illuminated in a colorful, psychedelic light show of flower mandalas and butterflies. A tribute to the lasting influence that flower power and a summer of love has had on people and history.
The days of the Summer of Love were original and to be a part of that, makes me feel I'm a part of history," said Goldman.
The Summer of Love light show will be on display from sundown through midnight at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate park through October 21st.