By Geri Gibbons , Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE – Despite intermittent showers, an “Old School, Drug Free Block Party” held Saturday brought hundreds of area residents to Public Square.
Darlene Magdalinski, the event’s organizer, said it provided both a look back to those lives negatively impacted by addiction and a look forward with a spirit of hope. She encouraged attendees to become part of the solution, investing in the lives of their neighbors and in the lives of their neighbors’ children.
If the future is to be positive, she said, then we must start now in our hometowns.
In spite of the serious message the event brought, the theme of the day was fun and recreation with participants enjoying music, dancing and food.
Robert Sukus, of Plains Township, said he had stopped simply to find out what was going on as Public Square filled with people and music. Sukus spent some of his time at the block party watching others play chess.
The chess players, many of whom said they spend many hours around chess games set up on picnic tables on the square, said they enjoyed seeing the area fill up and had even taken on some new challengers.
Sabra Carpenter, of Wilkes-Barre, said she grew up in the city.
“My son is autistic, and he really likes coming to the square and hearing the music,” she said. “Although he’s mostly non-verbal, you can see joy in his face when he gets here.”
Bubba Smith, 23, did indeed seem to be enjoying the music as he smiled and moved a bit in rhythm with the beat coming from the stage.
The event also provided opportunity for members of GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing) to demonstrate the correct use of naloxone, a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses.
T. J. Belt, who was crafting balloon art, said the day brought children from across the area to have fun, and request their favorite balloon creations, of course.