I was 15 years old at the time and too young to attend a famous event at a location so famous it is listed on the National Registry of Historical Places in Bethel, New York — Woodstock.

It happened 50 years ago from Aug. 15-Aug. 18, 1969.

Why did almost half a million youth converge at Woodstock?

Many hitchhiked, were without food, water and shelter from the rain — and it did rain quite a bit.

It was where outcasts and freaks were considered family.

There was a massive traffic jam on this pilgrimage, even keeping at least one performer from being there; around 186,000 tickets were sold, although close to half a million attended.

Singer Joan Baez sang “Oh! Happy Day” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” — two religious songs.

There were many singers and musicians.

There was a food and water shortage, so the people of Sullivan County provided 10,000 sandwiches, water bottles, fruit and canned goods, medical supplies and an Army helicopter for deliveries.

No one was arrested for violent crimes or for marijuana. Someone dressed as Smokey Bear acted as security, threatening to throw pies and fizzy water in the face of anyone unruly. Also there were tons of brown rice and granola handed out for free.

The last performer, Jimi Hendrix, was named by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as the greatest instrumentalist in the history of Rock music.

Jimi wanted to be the final performer. He was to play electic guitar — his psychedelic rendition of the U.S. National Anthem.

Realizing its significance — he did just that.

The kids came together 50 years ago, the same summer that man first walked on the moon.It was a memorable one.

Renee Christopher-McPheeters


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