Ships sunk but Plaza parties on


BY Guy D'Astolfo

The Small Ships Revue was sunk by city officials last month, a surprising — yet unavoidable — action forced by the violent and disgusting behavior of hoodlums.

Gang members from Youngstown, Warren and New Castle swarmed to the event last year. Fights and drunken behavior were prevalent, and police could no longer guarantee the safety of the public.

City officials announced steps in late May that made it impossible for event sponsor Quaker Steak and Lube to have the Revue. The city said it would prohibit access to the river, forbid a parade or any public gathering and would not close streets to traffic.

So after 33 years, the Small Ships Revue, which drew thousands and thousands to downtown Sharon, is no more. It’s a shame that the reprehensible actions of a few could kill something so fun, but there it is.

The highlight of the Revue was watching the wacky ships and their crews float down the Shenango River. It was truly an “only-in-Sharon” event that would have taken place June 27.

Instead, a much smaller family festival will take place on Quaker Steak property on Chestnut Street.

The Yachts of Fun family festival will include a children’s area with bounce houses, games and a magic show, according to Shannon Kizima-Jewell, general manager of the restaurant.

There also will be strolling performers, food vendors and beer stations, plus a lot of music, including a concert by Great White that will benefit the Ty Longley Memorial Fund and Community Food Warehouse.

Longley was the Brookfield native and guitarist in the hard-rock act who was killed in the infamous 2003 fire at a Rhode Island nightclub. The fire was ignited by pyrotechnics while Great White was performing, and claimed the lives of 100 people.


Last Friday, Youngstown police forced Party on the Plaza operators to pull the plug on the live music shortly after 11 p.m., citing the city’s noise ordinance.

But Police Chief Robin Lees said that won’t be the case at future Party on the Plaza events.

The annual series, sponsored by Warehouse 50 and set on the plaza in front of it on Central Square, has long featured bands playing until 1 a.m.

The officer in charge last Friday strictly interpreted the noise ordinance, said Chief Lees. He was acting on a complaint that came from a competing downtown business, and not a downtown resident.

After meeting with the mayor and law director, the chief said Wednesday that future Parties on the Plaza will be allowed to have live music until 1 a.m., although they will be asked to lower the volume a bit after 11 p.m.

“We don’t want to see it shut down at 11,” said Chief Lees. “We don’t want this to fizzle out.”

He pointed out that Warehouse 50 had received from City Hall an assemblage permit that allowed it to operate outside the noise ordinance.

When the police came to the Party last Friday, the event organizers were taken by surprise but they did comply. An announcement was made explaining why the band — the Porcelain Busdrivers — was cutting its set short.

The crowd, which was in the thousands at that point and still growing, did not leave the party. On the contrary, most people stayed until well past 1 a.m., despite the band’s exit.

The next Party on the Plaza will take place June 27 and will feature the House Band.


Are you familiar with Peggy Olsen, the character on acclaimed AMC series “Mad Men”?

She’s the driven young advertising executive who struggles to maintain her balance in an industry, and era, dominated by men.

In a recent article, a British newspaper points out the similarity between the fictional Peggy Olsen and a real person — Youngstown native Mary Wells Lawrence.

But in truth, the “Mad Men” character pales in comparison.

Vindicator files are full of stories on Lawrence, whose first job was writing ad copy for McKelvey’s department store. She moved to New York in the early 1950s with dreams of being an actress. When that failed to materialize, she entered the “Mad Men” game.

She made her name with a wildly successful ad campaign for Braniff Airlines that used sexiness as a selling point, and it worked like a charm.

Lawrence was responsible for several other well-known ad campaigns after Braniff, including Alka Seltzer’s “plop plop fizz fizz” commercials, according to a May 31 article in the Daily Mail.

She started her own company in 1966, becoming the first female CEO of a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The firm closed in 1988.

RED WANTING BLUE album, tour

Columbus-based rockers Red Wanting Blue will release new album “Little America” on July 1. The band will support it with a 32-city U.S. tour that will kick off with back-to-back shows June 20-21 at Musica in Akron, and includes an Aug. 9 show at Mr. Smalls in Pittsburgh.

The band with the huge Mahoning Valley following includes drummer Dean Anschutz of Youngstown.

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