The New York City Marathon was canceled on Friday by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg after mounting criticism that it was not the right time for a race as the region is still recovering from superstorm Sandy.
With people in storm ravaged areas shivering without electricity and the death toll in the city at more than 40, many New Yorkers recoiled at the prospect of police officers being assigned to protect a marathon, storm victims being evicted from hotels to make way for runners, and big generators humming along at the finish line tents in Central Park.
About 47,500 runners from around the globe had been expected to take part in the 42.2km event today, with more than 1 million spectators usually lining the route for the world’s largest marathon.
Meanwhile, broadcaster NBC held a benefit concert for Sandy victims hosted by Matt Lauer and featuring performances by Christina Aguilera, Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen.
The telethon was a mix of music, storm footage and calls for donations from Jon Stewart, Tina Fey, Whoopi Goldberg and others.
The mood was somber but hopeful, from Aguilera’s Beautiful to Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer and a tearful Mary J. Blige’s Living Proof. Joel rocked out with Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway), a song born from New York City’s near-bankruptcy in the 1970s, while Jimmy Fallon gamely led an all-star performance of the Drifters’ Under the Boardwalk that featured Joel, Springsteen and Steven Tyler.
The Aerosmith frontman then sat behind a piano and gave his all on a strained, but deeply emotional Dream On. Sting was equally passionate during an acoustic, muscular version of the Police hit Message in a Bottle.
The show ended, as it only could, with Springsteen and the E Street Band tearing into Land of Hope and Dreams.
“God bless New York,” Springsteen, New Jersey’s beloved native son, said in conclusion. “God bless the Jersey shore.”
The stable of NBC Universal networks aired the concert live from the NBC studios in Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan.
NBC Universal invited other networks to televise the event, but not everyone signed on.
However, ABC parent Walt Disney said it would donate US$2 million to the American Red Cross and various ABC shows will promote a “Day of Giving” tomorrow. CBS, Viacom amd Fox network owner News Corp also announced big donations to the Red Cross.