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Published: Friday, 6/20/2003

Downtown to be turned over to teens

National recording artist Darryl “Lil' D” Wheeler will appear here tomorrow as part of the third annual TeenFest 2003 in downtown Toledo's Promenade Park.

The 15-year-old native of Chattanooga, Tenn., will perform on the Promenade Park main stage at 4 p.m. at the CitiFest, Inc., alcohol-free event, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The free festival, designed for teens 19 and under, also will feature seven graffiti artists simultaneously painting a 60-foot-long mural; a BMX bike demonstration; skateboard competition, and a casting call hosted by the TV 5/WB station, at which teens can audition for the opportunity to appear on a WB series.

Other features include Teen Town, where teens can obtain literature on topics which affect their age group, and Teen Summer Jam, a talent show.

Starting at 11 a.m. on the main stage, area teen bands Them One Guys, Dance FX Academy, Impressions, Decibel, and Sasha will perform 50-minute sets.

Aside from his G-rated lyrics on his father's record label, Come Clean Entertainment, Lil' D is known for his association with the popular R&B artist Usher (Raymond), who was managed by his father, Darryl, Sr., early in the artist's career when he belonged to a group called NuBeginning.

“My dad would be practicing with [Usher and NuBeginning] and I would be pulling on his leg and telling my dad, `Watch me dad, watch me' and he would put me on stage and I'd really perform,” said the polite young man, who answers questions from a reporter with a respectful “yes ma'am.”

“Usher, we just come from the same camp. A lot of the same stuff my father put into him, and he's very creative, I also have. I would just watch Usher while he was singing in the mirror and study his facial expressions and he is a good dancer,” said Lil' D, who emphasized that he has developed a style all his own.

TeenFest 2003 will run from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. tomorrow in and around Promenade Park in downtown Toledo. Information: 419-249-5018 or www.citifest.org.

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