NEW YORK -- There were anger, tears and love yesterday on the seventh anniversary of John Lennon's murder.

Youths who weren't yet born when the Beatles were the world's superstars played songs in Central Park's Strawberry Fields, an area dedicated to Lennon's memory.

"Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" competed with "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

A steady trickle of fans converged around the big gray and white mosaic tile circle with "Imagine" spelled out in the center, just yards from the Dakota apartments where Lennon was shot down by deranged fan Mark David Chapman Dec. 8, 1980.

The circle was covered with pictures of the slain Beatle and love messages to Lennon, flowers and other offerings, including a candle, its flame blown out by a chilly breeze.

A young woman sat hunched on a park bench in a lavender ski jacket writing on a piece of pink stationery, sniffling occasionally.

She placed her letter in the mosaic circle with the rest: "Dear John, We love you. We miss you."

She said her name was Mary Anne and she was from New Jersey.

She looked around at the others hunkering down or sitting cross-legged on the cold asphalt in 40-degree weather under a pale December sun.

A girl with her head bowed was burning incense. Another in a jacket with a "Grateful Dead" patch sewn on the back hugged her boyfriend.

"I think it's beautiful," she said. "I think the world should be like this. I hope Reagan and Gorbachev hear this. We should invite them to the vigil."

Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, and their son, 12-year-old Sean, still live in the Dakota, and talk at the Strawberry Fields gathering centered on whether they would show up.

A spokeswoman for Ono said she would not be issuing a statement.

The visible anger in the day came from Jac Radoff of the Manhattan Tree Project, an activist organization dedicated to saving the remaining natural areas in the city.

Radoff, a quiet, intense man, claimed that in fashioning Strawberry Fields, the tear-shaped parcel of land where Yoko and John used to stroll, "tremendous damage" was done.

"Rock faces were mashed, trees received tremendous punishment from this project," he said. "Bulldozers ripped dirt and roots away."

He showed where a plaque containing the names of 121 nations had been ripped from its fastening on a large rock.

The missing plaque stated that Strawberry Fields was a "restoration" endorsed by the listed nations.

Radoff said the statement galled him. He has been going around informing U.N. delegates it is a lie and that they have been duped.

"This was not a restoration," he said. "This area did not need to be restored.

"John Lennon had nothing to do with this," Radoff said. "He would not want anything like this done to Central Park."

He turned to talk to another reporter as a young woman named Cathy Anne handed out rumpled photostats of a love poem to Lennon.

Down in the middle it says " ... the ground I am walking, the air that I breathe are shared at these moments with you.