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‘Cool’ event brings life to square

Well-known area magician Pat Ward is set to entertain – and puzzle – children and adults hanging out on Public Square at noon tomorrow. He’ll bring his popular magic tricks to downtown Wilkes-Barre as part of Summer’s Cool, a city-sponsored event that lasts all day.

An interactive party band, The Landsharks, a Jimmy Buffett tribute group, is set to energize the audience on Public Square at 7 p.m. tomorrow. The Landsharks have performed with Jimmy Buffett himself and play as the house band at the Margaritaville Café in Florida, which Buffett owns.


Ventriloquist Susan Klein often comes accompanied by Duncan the Dog, Carly, Fast Eddie Turtle and Dylan the Duck.

It’s cool to be on the square.

So say Mayor Tom Leighton, his staff, downtown business owners and local entertainers, many of whom will attend Summer’s Cool on the Square, an all-day party on Public Square slated to begin at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Entertainment will include magician Pat Ward, ventriloquist Susan Klein, a rendition of the play “Rapunzel!” by the Popcorn Hat Players of Harrisburg and performances by bands Bad Hair Day, Plus 3 and Faded Fortune.

But truly setting the summer-time theme for the party will be Jimmy Buffett tribute band The Landsharks, which plays all of the legendary island singer’s old hits.

“They really base their performances on interactions with the crowd,” said city administrative coordinator Bridget Giunta, who added The Landsharks have performed with Buffett himself before and have been the house band at his Margaritaville Café in Florida.

“It definitely brings it up a notch as far as tribute bands go when they’ve actually performed with the person they’re duplicating, so that definitely boosts their credibility in my book,” she said.

Giunta said the group, who played at the NBC pre-game party at the Super Bowl in January, cost about $5,000 to book.

Showtime is 7 p.m.

But partygoers can find something to do on the square long before that hour.

“Starting at 10 a.m., I envision families down there throughout the day taking advantage of the many different activities that will cater to all ages,” said Leighton, explaining the event was designed as a way to say goodbye to summer and get ready for the fall season.

Take a walk down South Main Street, where area retailers will set up stands for sidewalk sales. Visit any of the neighborhood restaurants. Or simply hang out on the square near the entertainment.

Ventriloquist Susan Klein of Nanticoke plans to bring along some of her 13 puppets, including Carly and Dylan the Duck, for an 11 a.m. show. The performance is part of her “Be Creative” program, which encourages students to “be creative because you never know where it’ll take you.”

Klein, who frequently performs in schools, churches, hospitals and libraries, doesn’t generally move her lips during shows, but a little boy once saw her slip.

“I know how those puppets talk; I saw your lips move,” she recalled him saying.

But, she said, she doesn’t just entertain children.

“It’s amazing how adults enjoy it also,” she said.

“I’m three characters with three different voices.”

Well, actually four if you count Herman the Flea – an imaginary figure with whom she converses from afar.

“He won’t say a lot,” Klein said. “But it’s me using a distant voice.”

At one point tomorrow, the square might call to mind Place de la Revolution, a town square in Paris where beheadings took place during the French Revolution.

That’s because area magician Pat Ward plans to use a “guillotine” as part of his magic show.

The machine, which has a blade attached to a rope that drops fast and simulates a decapitation, is a popular draw at Ward’s performances.

“A couple of parents have wanted to borrow it,” the 58-year-old joked while taking a break from cleaning the machine at his Harveys Lake home earlier this week.

The guillotine act, in which Ward pretends to cut off his head, is part of his magic show, which also includes box tricks and illusions.

Ward also promises to walk around with his famous balloon animals and clown gags and to “cause some mischief.”

A bonus for adults, meaning those 21 and older, is they can obtain wristbands and event cups at participating bars and restaurants and drink beer and malt beverages outdoors between 5 and 10 p.m. Boundaries, according to a resolution signed Aug. 6, are the areas between North and South streets and Franklin and Washington streets.

“It’s going to be well patrolled and police will be very visible,” Leighton said.

This makes business owners such as Lorenzo Medico, co-owner of Luna Lounge and the new Manual Fats Rock & Roll Bar, happy.

Medico scheduled the grand opening of Manual Fats, housed in the former Luna Nightclub, to coincide with Summer’s Cool on the Square. The 30-year-old said Luna Lounge, an upscale lounge in the back of his establishment, will remain as is.

“We’re going to have a huge grill outside,” he said, adding he’ll serve hot dogs, burgers and brats.

“We’re going to be playing rock ’n’ roll,” he said. The band Gone Crazy is scheduled to appear at 10 p.m.

“I hope that this event will bring people to the downtown for the first time, and I hope they’ll return and support our many downtown businesses,” Leighton said.

If you go

What: Summer’s Cool on the Square

Where: Public Square, Wilkes-Barre

When: Begins at 10 a.m. Saturday


10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Sidewalk Sale

10 a.m.: “Rapunzel!” (children’s play)

11 a.m.: Ventriloquist Susan Klein

Noon: Magic show with Pat Ward

2 p.m.: Bad Hair Day performs

3:30 p.m.: Plus 3 performs

5 p.m.: Faded Fortune performs

7 p.m.: The Landsharks (Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band/house band)

Participating bar/restaurants: Luna Lounge/Manual Fats Rock & Roll Bar, Hardware Bar complex bars, Rodano’s, Oyster pool bar, Mimmo’s Pizza, Gage, Gonda’s, Senunas’ and the Westmoreland Club

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