During the 1960s, local hippies and flower children would gather at Greynolds Park in North Miami Beach to hang out, listen to live local bands, smoke, read poetry and play music, while some would protest the Vietnam War. These gatherings and others like them around the country were known as “love-ins.” At Greynolds, they were held atop the park’s hill, which was once the highest public land point in Miami-Dade County at 46 feet above sea level, topped with a limestone rock quarry tower.
For the past 13 years, Greynolds has hosted “Love-In, Party in the Park” festivals celebrating music from the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, with acclaimed bands like Jefferson Starship and singers including Richie Havens, among other big-name headliners.
The event’s festivities on Sunday drew more than 1,000 people to Miami-Dade’s second oldest park. Tony Stevens, former bassist of the English rock band Foghat, performed the hit Slow Ride, among the band’s other songs alongside former members of Savoy Brown and Hall and Oates. Brian Howe, former lead singer of Bad Company, also played Sunday, as did local band Havoc 305.
In addition to live music, the event featured a costume contest, friendly Frisbee matches, fair food such as funnel cakes, arepas, and lemonade slushies, but mostly the opportunity to relive and reminisce about old times, as the majority of attendees were baby boomers, many of whom grew up in and went to school in South Florida.
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Miami Beach resident Zona Horton, who attended Sunday’s Love-In with her husband, recalled how she’d skip math class and come to Greynolds Park with friends in the early ‘60s, when she was 17.
“We used to roll down the hill, sit by the water, hang out, get stoned — it was amazing,” she says. “It’s really come full circle,” she says of the park’s annual Love-Ins.
“I was a good boy,” says her husband, Jim Falkowski, of his youth. “She’s the girl my parents told me not to hang out with.”
This is the third year Rhonda Grunthe of Davie attended the Greynolds Love-In. She went to Woodstock and says she enjoys live music and being with friends, but also, “reminiscing and never wanting to grow old.”
Tom Morgan, the coastal region manager of Miami-Dade Parks, has directed the Love-Ins since the festival’s inception.
“The park was one of the hippie areas of Miami-Dade County. It used to be a landfill many years ago. Buried underneath the hill is old rock quarry equipment. The park has a lot of neat history. Solo music acts would show up and play on the hill. The flower generation would come here to enjoy themselves, and preach peace.”
He says the main message of the annual event is to give people a “throw-back” in time and to promote the decades associated with the peace and love movement.
He and his team will be planning Coconuts Music Festival soon, complete with coconut-themed activities and live music, which will take place at Haulover Park in November.
Many of the attendees on Sunday sat in lawn chairs or on tie-dyed blankets beneath the shade of a large tree near the hill’s rock quarry. Others soaked up the sun closer to the stage or browsed the food and drink vendors, and tossed free Frisbees distributed by one of the sponsors, Catholic Health Services. Peterson’s Harley Davidson brought one of their black leather motorcycles for people to sit on, while oldies music station, 102.7 The Beach, introduced the festival’s music line-ups. Miami-Dade District 4 Commissioner Sally Heyman spoke to the crowd after Slow Ride, but attendees had disbursed, perhaps in awe of hearing and seeing a live performance of a song that helped define their generation.
“We have so many talented musicians in South Florida,” says Harriet Quarles, of Hallandale, who wore bright yellow peace-sign sunglasses to Sunday’s event. “I’m an old hippie child, and this is the one day of the year where I let my hair down.”