By Amy Zimmer
DNAinfo News Editor
UPPER WEST SIDE — More than 60,000 sweaty fans are expected to brave the sweltering heat and flood Central Park's Great Lawn for Thursday night's massive Black Eyed Peas spectacle.
Patricia Tapia and three of her friends from Crown Heights already had scored their free tickets to the 6:30 p.m. benefit concert but still decided to line up along Central Park West, where gates and guards were already in place by 10 a.m.
"The earlier you line up, the closer you get," said the 16-year-old who brought a pink floral umbrella to keep cool. "I want to be real close. The experience is more intimate."
Her friend, Christopher Lorient, 17, packed a bag with water bottles and Cheez-Its to keep them sated during their long wait.
"This is my second concert ever. I'm ready to get my 'boom boom pow' on," he said, referring to one of the band's big hits.
"We're going to be dancing with the Black Eyed Peas, Taylor Swift, LL Cool J," he said, mentioning a few of the special guests slated to appear at the concert to benefit the poverty-fighting Robin Hood Foundation.
MC Hammer, Debbie Harry, Carole King and Natasha Bedingfield are also slated to make appearances along with S Zach Braff, Whoopi Goldberg and Jimmy Smits.
A huge chunk of Central Park was fenced off for the concert expected to attract more than 60,000 people with scores of portable toilets lining the Great Lawn's perimeter along with seven ATMs operated by Chase, the event's sponsor.
There were 50,000 free tickets available through a lottery, officials said. The show's 6,000 $500 VIP tickets sold out on Tuesday after Taylor Swift's appearance was announced.
Edgar Torres was so excited about the concert he not only made sure he'd get to work security detail for it, he called a family friend, Aramis Marte, and encouraged him to work the concert, as well — even though Marte has another job.
"It's like when you play hooky to watch the Yankees in the playoffs," said Torres, 56, "How many times are the Black Eyed Peas going to play Central Park?"
Marte, 23, took the day off from his office job at the Dominican Consulate to do security for the show. "When he told me, I was, like, 'Let's go.'"
"Yes, I'm going to be 57, but the music is good," said Torres, of Washington Heights.. His favorite Pea is Fergie. "I like the way she sings."
Raysabel Badia, 17, who was chaperoning her brother's second grade class trip to Central Park from Westchester, was sitting near Turtle Pond by the Great Lawn while the stage was being set up.
"I wish I could go to the concert," she said. "The teachers are like, 'Why don't we stay here instead of going to see the puppets perform? The kids, too."
Robin Hood teamed up with the Black Eyed Peas to help fund the opening of three Peapod Academies in the city over the coming years. They will support disadvantaged youth, by providing music and artistic education, such as music engineering, mixing and video editing.