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Billy Joel makes surprise visit to school's 'River of Dreams' Billy Joel tribute concert

Billy Joel watches the Deasy Elementary School students

Billy Joel watches the Deasy Elementary School students perform their spring concert, "The River of Dreams: A Billy Joel Tribute" held at Finley Middle School's Wunsch Art Center in Glen Cove on April 9, 2014. Credit: Glen Cove School District

Billy Joel got to watch a Billy Joel concert Wednesday.

The Piano Man himself was a surprise guest in the audience at Glen Cove's Deasy Elementary School spring concert, "The River of Dreams: A Billy Joel Tribute."

In the show, kindergartners through second-graders performed 15 songs from various phases of Joel's career.

"We invited Billy Joel on a lark, but we didn't expect him to come. It was totally thrilling," said Nomi Rosen, Deasy's principal. "We were all beside ourselves."

Joel drove to the Finley Middle School's Wunsch Art Center, where Deasy's concert was held, a mere 10 minutes from his Centre Island home, via motorcycle. He arrived casually five minutes before the 9:30 a.m. start.

"I asked him if he wanted to sit in front, but he said he would rather stay in the back so he wouldn't make the kids nervous," Rosen said.

Parents and staff made a joint effort to invite Joel. Letters were sent, as well as Facebook messages on his fan page.

"I found out two minutes before the concert started that he was here and it totally freaked me out. My nerves went sky-high," admitted Rosita Mallo, concert director and music teacher. "This was a very welcomed surprise. It gave the kids extra energy to perform."

After hearing the kindergartners and first graders, Joel started getting flooded with photo and autograph requests, prompting him to exit early. However, the memory was already made.

"These kids will have a story to tell how they got to sing for Billy Joel," says Kim Velentzas, 42, of Glen Cove, who was in the audience to see her son Harrison, 7, perform. "For a Long Islander, that's a big deal."

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