Tom Petty's Annual Birthday Bash Kicks Off

GAINESVILLE, Fla., (WCJB)--- Two years ago, rock music legend and Gainesville's very own Tom Petty suddenly passed away and every year since on his birthday weekend there's a bash to celebrate his life and legacy.

The biggest party in town tonight and this weekend is the annual Tom Petty Birthday Bash.

" It means the world for us to be able to do this," said Jason Hedges.

Jason Hedges is the lead vocalist for Heavy Petty, the Tom Petty and Heartbreakers tribute band and has been organizing birthday bashes for Petty since his sudden death in 2017.

"I feel overwhelmed with gratitude and love right now from the people that have come, I'm meeting people tonight that have come from all around the world that love tom petty and that want to come to his hometown on his birthday weekend and celebrate," said Hedges.

The music festival is free and features local and national bands and some of Petty's memorabilia will be on display for many to see.

"I've done a lot of paintings of tom petty and they're actually on display at the Matheson Museum, but one of the things I do with his paintings , is that I hide his name somewhere," said Barbara Tench, a local artist.

One fan says it's great that Petty's legacy is remembered every year.

"The sad part is who knows what he could have done or would have done more you know but I know there's some stuff that hasn't been released that the family has that hopefully, someday will come out," said Barry Sides

Petty's birthday bash will also be supporting the Arts in Medicine program at UF Shands. Some proceeds will benefit those using arts to transform the health experience for patients.