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Comic duo draws fans to festival in Harlem

The city of Harlem invites people near and far to celebrate the famed comedy team of Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel during the 23rd annual festival honoring the pair.

The festival, held in downtown Harlem, starts at 9 a.m. Saturday with arts, crafts and food vendors.

An opening ceremony, with Harlem Mayor Bobby Culpepper welcoming the crowd, will be held at 9:30 a.m., and a parade that winds through downtown starts at 10 a.m.

The free festival is held in honor of Hardy, who was born in Harlem in 1892. He went on to team up with Laurel in two dozen comedies in the 1930s and 1940s.

About 300 vendor spaces have been filled so far, said event organizer Denise Carter.

"Hopefully, the crowd is in line with the response we've gotten from the vendors," she said.

The Laurel & Hardy Museum will stay open all day for visitors to browse memorabilia and watch movies in the museum's theater.

"That theater stays packed all day," Carter said.

Several musical acts will start performing at 11 a.m. on two stages set up next to the Harlem Department of Public Safety and Harlem City Hall.

"The last few years, we've tried to be a platform for local artists to be able to perform in front of a large audience," Carter said. "We have a really good array of music."

Each year, a theme based on one of the pair's films is chosen, Carter said. This year, the festival will center around A-Haunting We Will Go, released in 1942.

"We've never really done a fall theme like that," Carter said.

To go along with that theme, a haunted simulator provided by Plantation Blood will be set up.

Web posted on Thursday, September 29, 2011

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