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Chapin honored at family's reunion concert

Huntington's Heckscher Park was overflowing with music fans

Huntington's Heckscher Park was overflowing with music fans Saturday evening to honor Harry Chapin on the 30th anniversary of his death. His brother Tom, pictured, along with his other brother Steve and members of Harry's original band performed during the free benefit concert for Long Island Cares and the Harry Chapin Food Bank. (July 16, 2011) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

A few hours before he went on stage last night, Tom Chapin hoped his family's reunion concert would do more than mark the 30th anniversary of his famous brother's death.

He wanted the crowd to be fueled by "the power of the songs" written by Harry Chapin, not sadness.

Hundreds of fans overflowed Huntington's Heckscher Park for the free event, fulfilling the family's wishes by swaying to the beat and singing along.

But on a perfect summer night, there were some melancholy moments for concertgoers.

Ken Rader, 53, of Huntington, said the event is "sort of bittersweet. [But] when I saw the schedule, I'm like, gotta be here for this."

Lori Lee Noreman, 50, of Old Bethpage, said she and her husband, Jeff, have been Chapin fans for "a very long time."

"It's a great way to honor him . . . and everything he believed in," she said of the concert.

On July 16, 1981, Harry Chapin was killed in a car accident on the Long Island Expressway. He was 38.

Celebrated last night was his music, but also Chapin's influence on Long Island. He contributed to a number of arts organizations and, concerned about hunger, founded the Long Island Cares food bank in 1980. Cash and food donations were being accepted during the concert.

"So many people [on Long Island] really had a connection with him," Tom Chapin said.

The concert was only the second time the family has performed together publicly, Tom Chapin said.

He was joined on stage by his brother Steve, Harry's daughter Jen, and Tom's three daughters.

Harry would have enjoyed the concert, said his younger brother, Tom, 66.

"Harry was always trying to bring the family together," he said. "This was his kind of thing. This is such a Harry event."

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