If ever there was a man worthy of a grand birthday bash in San Francisco, it had to be Tony Bennett.And that is exactly what happened on Friday.
After the speeches, the music and the praise for the legendary crooner, hundreds of people watched as a 2.5 metre-tall bronze statue of Bennett was unveiled outside the Fairmont Hotel, where he first sang I Left My Heart in San Francisco in 1961.
"I can't get over what just happened," said Bennett, who turned 90 earlier this month.
"That's the most beautiful statue I have ever seen. It will live in my heart forever. Thank you for being so wonderful to me. I'll never forget this day."
Bennett looked sharp in a blue suit but said only a few words and didn't sing.
That was OK with the crowd; they were just happy to see him.
"He's San Francisco," said Marty Jewett, standing in the front row with her friend, also a huge Bennett fan.
"I think he keeps all the generations within his repertoire. I love his voice and his longevity."
Jewett and friend Margaret Baker arrived early on Friday to get a front row position in the crowd.
"I think Tony Bennett represents the best in Italian-American entertainment going back for generations," Baker said.
For as long as anyone can remember, the New Yorker has been giving to San Francisco.
Now, the city has paid him back, with Mayor Ed Lee declaring August 19 to be Tony Bennett Day.
"Tony Bennett, you've helped us share the magic of San Francisco around the world," Lee said.
The celebration will continue at AT&T Park, where the San Francisco Giants will honour Bennett in a pre-game ceremony and throughout the game.
Bennett also will perform I Left My Heart in San Francisco for fans.
In addition to the fanfare Friday and a gala dinner Saturday, Bennett is getting his own ice cream flavour. Created by the city's Humphry Slocombe ice cream shop, the flavour "Duet" will feature vanilla ice cream swirled with limoncello sorbet and fennel biscotti to honour Bennett's Italian heritage.
But the centrepiece of the celebration was the statue, which San Francisco Bay Area sculptor Bruce Leslie Wolfe began creating a few months ago after the singer sat for him for three days.
With many thanks to The Australian