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The O'Jays start a love train at the Mango Festival
The O'Jays start a love train at the Mango Festival

Mango Mania

If Deerfield Beach is nothing more to you than a couple of exits whizzing by on your daily commute, then you need to stop and smell the mangoes. With its 16th Annual Mango Festival this weekend, the Broward/ Palm Beach border town demands recognition for both itself and Mangifera indica.

To help give this pulpy member of the cashew family its due, the event's organizers have assembled a host of gospel and R&B entertainers, including the venerable O'Jays, perhaps the most successful vocal act of the 1970s. The group's enduring fame stems mostly from the hit single "Love Train," which topped the R&B and pop charts in 1973. Also on the bill is Jimmie "Bo" Horne, an originator of the Miami dance sound. Along with the elder statesmen are such relative neophytes as Strawberri, whose recently released debut album, Nothing Better, has started her on what many predict to be a long career in R&B, and Lil' D, the 12-year-old gospel singer whose performance marks a return to the festival.

In addition to the musical entertainment, the Mango Festival includes a parade, which begins Saturday morning at Pioneer Park and continues along Hillsboro Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue to the festival site. This year's grand marshal, Hermann Boone, is the former high-school football coach whose real-life exploits were recounted in the Denzel Washington vehicle Remember the Titans.


The Mango Festival

Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Deerfield Beach between Hillsboro Boulevard and Tenth Street

Tickets cost $1 for children ages 3 to 12 and $5 for adults. Concerts take place on two stages Saturday 11:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 9 p.m. Call 954-480-4480.

The festivities kick off Friday night at the Deerfield Beach Hilton, where the second annual Grand Ball pulls in the crowd that prefers galas to fun stuff like concerts and parades. Luckily for the die-hard antituxedo crowd, the ball is black tie optional. All in all, with the glitter crowd of the ball, the families at the parade, and the rhythm-and-blues enthusiasts at the myriad concerts, Hermann Boone might just outsell Denzel.

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