tribute to John Lennon
The Dakota House on Lake Formosa hosted the ninth annual John Lennon Tribute Christmas Party and Fund-raiser. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

ORLANDO – On the back patio of the Dakota House, a large crowd was gathering, some of them seated in lawn chairs in front of the stage where the musicians were tuning their guitars. On the front of the house off Lake Formosa was a large poster of the man this event was being held in tribute of: John Lennon.
“We do this to honor the spirit of Lennon, so his memory will carry on forever,” said Suzan Elizabeth, a local artist.
“It is a tribute to John Lennon on the anniversary of his death,” added Orlando musician Jessy Daumen. “Here we are a group of musicians and friends who come together to pay homage to his great music and his message of love.”
On Saturday, local artists, musicians and fans of the late Beatle gathered at the Dakota House for the ninth annual John Lennon Tribute Christmas Party and Fund-raiser. Saturday was the 32nd anniversary of Lennon’s tragic death on Dec. 8, 1980, when he was shot to death in front of his Manhattan apartment building.

A large crowd gathered on the back lawn of the Dakota House for the John Lennon tribute. (Photo by Michael Freeman.)

Saturday’s tribute in Orlando was an opportunity to celebrate the life, music and message of the singer and songwriter responsible for such classic songs as “Imagine,” “Starting Over,” and “Give Peace a Chance.”
“We sing his songs and produce pieces of art to manifest his dream,” said Elizabeth, one of the producers of the tribute. That included taking a wooden door, completely blank on one side, and giving the artists attending this event an opportunity to paint on it. It also included musicians performing Lennon’s songs before the crowd.
“I’ll be playing Lennon right at sunset,” musician Brian Chodorcoff said as he tuned his guitar as the sun was setting over Lake Formosa.
He added that the Beatles remain one of the greatest influences on musicians, even those born decades after the 1960s ended.
“Honestly, the Beatles themselves, they had a 40 or 50 year career in a 10 year period,” he said. “Anyone who says they are not influenced by the Beatles is wrong. Give me any Metallica song – it’s called ’Helter Skelter.’ ”

Musicians get ready to perform some of John Lennon’s songs for the crowd. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

It isn’t just a tribute to his music, Elizabeth added, but also to his lasting message – “to imagine peace and love. It’s just like his song ‘Imagine.’ Listen to his song ‘Imagine,’ and that says it all about his dream.”
The event was also held as a fund-raiser for the HeartStrings Foundation, which brings together musicians and charitable causes.
“HeartStrings is a foundation that all of these musicians are a part of,” Daumen said. “They use the money to send bands to charitable organizations that need live music. They provide a p.a. system and artists and musicians.”
The Lennon tribute is an event that’s been held in Orlando for nearly a decade, she added, as both a way to pay homage, and as a social cause.
“Lennon has always been an idol,” she said. “We have had many nights playing music by the fire here. It just got to be this big thing, because so many are inspired by his music.”

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