Youngstown to Unveil Walk of Fame; First Star Goes to Kool & The Gang

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Kool & The Gang will become the first star on the new Youngstown Walk of Fame in Wean Park, downtown.

The legendary R&B-pop band was founded and is still led by Robert “Kool” Bell, who spent his boyhood in Youngstown. The entire band will be enshrined during a ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Walk of Fame, which will be on a wall that is being erected along a walkway in Wean Park, near the Market Street Bridge. The public is welcome.

Kool & The Gang will perform in concert later Saturday evening at The Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre.

The idea for the Walk came from Melanie Clarke-Penella, the city’s special events coordinator, along with Chuck Shasho, public works director; Nikki Posterli, director of community planning and economic development; Mayor Jamael Tito Brown; and Eric Ryan and Jordan Ryan of JAC Management.

It’s modeled after the famed Hollywood Walk of Fame, but the stars will not be on the ground because they would get ruined.

“I don’t think Hollywood gets as much snow as we do,” Clarke-Penella said, by way of explanation.

“The stars will be standing monuments along the walking path through Wean Park,” she said.

A replica of the star will be used at Saturday’s ceremony. The real star is still being fabricated and will be placed on the permanent structure – which is under construction – when it’s complete in about eight weeks, Clarke-Penella said.

Each star will be accompanied by a QR code that will allow visitors to scan and then read about the star’s connection to the city.

The city is forming a committee to accept and consider nominees for future stars on the Walk of Fame, which will also be getting its own page on the city’s official website. Nomination forms and other information will be on the website, Clarke-Penella said.

The Walk of Fame will honor Youngstown natives and residents who made a mark in the fields of entertainment, sports, film and science.

“It will be just one more nice thing in downtown Youngstown,” she said. “Another reason to come downtown and take a selfie.”

Bell and his younger brother, Ronald “Khalis” Bell, formed the band in the mid-1960s in Jersey City, New Jersey, after his family moved there from the East Side. Ronald died in 2020.

Kool & The Gang would go on to produce a slew of global hits, including “Celebration,” “Ladies Night,” “Jungle Boogie,” “Too Hot,” “Get Down on It” and “Fresh.”

Pictured at top: The stars in the Youngstown Walk of Fame will be honored by being placed on a wall that is being constructed in Wean Park, downtown, near the Market Street Bridge.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.