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Thousands Brave Rain, Wind and Cold to Hear Bocelli Sing in Central Park

By Ben Fractenberg | September 16, 2011 6:41am

CENTRAL PARK — The rain poured while the notes soared.

Tens of thousand of people packed into Central Park's Great Lawn to hear legendary tenor Andrea Bocelli sing with the New York Philharmonic Thursday night.

"It's one of those New York experiences," said Chris Boyle, 50, who came from Staten Island for the show.

Boyle said the rain and wind only added to the emotional intensity of the event.

"I'm expecting around 10 p.m. for a lighting bolt to hit the stage," he joked.

Bocelli — who told the audience he last sang in Central Park with Luciano Pavarotti — performed with surprise guests including Tony Bennet and Celine Dion.

Concert goers dressed in rain jackets and ponchos seemed to completely ignore the rain, transfixed by the singing.

"It's wonderful. Even in the rain and wind," said Nancy Nix, who also traveled from Staten Island for the show.

The free concert, which Bocelli called his "gift to New York," came at the tail end of the summer, creating a fitting end to a concert series in Central Park that included hip hop legends like Slick Rick and Talib Kweli and indie acts like Wavves and the Budos Band.