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Pens thank you for loving them By SARA POKORNY

A group of now-beloved athletes skated into the hearts of many in Northeastern Pennsylvania 13 years ago, part of an organization that would become an integral piece of the area’s culture and collective social life. No matter the number of wins or trips to the playoffs the WilkesBarre/Scranton Penguins have under their belts, or the various events and charities the organization has been part of throughout each year, vice president of operations Brian Coe said nothing would be possible without one key element. “Our fans. They are the No. 1 asset we have and the reason we’re even here,” Coe said. “We always strive to give back to them, to the people who have been so loyal to us the past 13 years.” For the third time, the Penguins will host Pensfest, the team’s biggest way to give back to its fan base. The festivities set for tonight will include plenty for visitors to do, as well as some behind-the-scenes looks at the organization itself. The Penguins have operated in the Coal Street facility in WilkesBarre for only three summers, since 2010. The set-up is a first for the group. “This is the first time in the history of the franchise where the front office is in the same building as the players and coaches, which is nice,” Coe said. “We don’t have to drive to the arena to see them

I F YO U G O What: Pensfest When: 5 to 8:30 tonight Where: Coal Street Park, WilkesBarre Events: Free skating session, autograph sessions with players, outdoor activities and music by the Chixie Dix. More info: 208-7367 Schedule: • 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.: Player autograph sessions, in groups of four • 6:45 to 8:15 p.m.: Free skating session • 5 to 7:30 p.m.: Outdoor events, such as bounce houses, games and live music

now if we need something.” Coe said the Pens would like to showcase this new facility as well as the team itself. Eight players will be available for two autograph sessions tonight. Beau Bennett, Brian Dumoulin, Tom Kühnhackl, Reid McNeil, Jason Megna, Joe Morrow, Adam Payerl and Dominic Üher will be on hand for sessions at 5:30 and 7:30. “We’re even giving people a chance to glimpse where the players are set up on a day-by-day basis, which is a side that most people don’t see,” Coe said of the locker tours that will be available throughout the event. Many of the outdoor festivities will take place until 7:30 and include various games, bounce houses and live music by local band the Chixie Dix. A free public skating session will begin at 6:45 p.m. and include free skate rentals.


Fans line up outside the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ Coal Street complex for last year’s Pensfest.

Ibiyinka Alao, who will visit King’s College on Monday, titled this painting ‘Grace’ and said the patchwork-quilt effect is a tribute to his mother and her ideas that everyone is equal.

Pearls of wisdom

African artist ‘paints out’ path to peace, forgiveness By MARY THERESE BIEBEL


The humble oyster has a lesson for us. It knows how to forgive. “Irritation gets into the shell. It doesn’t like the irritation. So what does it do? It makes a pearl,” said Ibiyinka Alao, who travels the world as the United Nations ambassador for art. “When we have irritations in our lives, there is only one prescription: Make a pearl.” “Ninety-nine percent of wars could be avoided if people would let bygones by bygones. Children understand that,” said the artist, who will show some of his artwork and share his message of peace during a presentation on Monday at King’s College. Alao, 35, grew up in Nigeria, where the equatorial sun was so big, so warm, so close “it seemed you could reach out and touch it.” The sun led him to appreciate brightness and color – two elements essential to his art. Perhaps as tribute, he said, “You’ll always see me paint the sun, somewhere in the corner” of a painting. He can’t remember when he started to paint – “You’d have to ask my mother,” he said – but he knows he was very young. “When I would have a bad dream and it would scare me, I

What: “Visions of True Colors: The Art of Ibiyinka Alao” Sponsored by: King’s College’s Office of Diversity and the College’s African Cultures course. When: 6 p.m. Monday Where: Fitzgerald Room of the Sheehy-Farmer Campus Center, located between North Franklin and North Main streets on King’s College Campus Info: 208-5823 Admission: Free

would tell my mom or dad and they would say to let it out in painting. That would make me feel better.” Has he experienced other irritations? “When I was learning English, it was the greatest irritation of my life,” he said with a laugh. “Being from Africa, it tangles the tongue.” A speaker of 14 African languages who is working on French, he practiced English as a youth by reading his father’s copy of Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” “I thought it would be a funny book,” he said, admitting he felt somewhat frightened by Dante’s “gruesome description of the journey from hell to heaven.” But if he felt frightened, he could always “paint it out.” For Alao, art has become a

There’s one prescription for life’s irritations, Ibiyinka Alao says: ‘Make a pearl.’

path to spirituality. “I pray when I paint. I paint when I pray,” he said. His message is always peaceful, he said, even though he’s been to some dangerous places on his home continent where “I had to run for my life.” “You just have to shake your head sometimes,” he said. “Muslims are trying to kill Christians, and Christians are trying to kill Muslims.” But he believes there is a way to experience the joyfulness and peace suggested by some of his paintings, including one called “True Miracles,” in which women are not dancing so much as floating around an oyster. “When we forgive people, we are making pearls,” he said. “Then you can feel the way the astronauts feel when they are weightless. Fully free.”

The Guide 09-07-2012  

The Friday Guide 09-07

The Guide 09-07-2012  

The Friday Guide 09-07