The music group with roots in Youngstown, Ohio, Kool & the Gang is the first to receive a star on the Walk of Fame in the city center

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The city of Youngstown celebrated the Fourth of July with food trucks and fireworks, but before that, the first star for the Walk of Fame was unveiled.

The star in downtown Wean Park is dedicated to the music group Kool & the Gang. Two of the band's founding members, Robert and Ronnie Bell, were from Youngstown. They formed the band after moving to New Jersey.

“They never forgot home and I always tell the kids, 'When you leave, never forget home.' And they never have,” said Mayor Tito Brown.

Next to the star is a QR code that you can scan to go to a website that plays Kool & the Gang's music.

“Right now, it's just a beginning for us downtown. The Walk of Fame gives people an opportunity to learn about our heritage, but also the great talent that can be found in the city of Youngstown,” Brown said.

After unveiling the star, Brown announced the 2024 Walk of Fame honorees – the five world boxing champions from Youngstown.

“When you have five world boxing champions here, it's hard not to say, 'Let's honor them,'” Brown said.

Boom Boom Mancini, Kelly Pavlik, Harry Arroyo, Greg Richardson and Jeff Lampkin will be the next to have their stars housed at Wean Park.

“We're a boxing town. We started with music and wanted to move straight into sports, but next year the public vote will be open,” said Melanie Clarke-Penella, special events coordinator for the city of Youngstown.

The city will allow the public to vote on the 2025 Walk of Fame award winners. A voting form will be published in the next few weeks.

“We are especially looking for people who have returned and have not forgotten where they came from,” said Clarke-Penella.

Brown says he wants visitors to Wean Park to learn about Youngstown's history and heritage. He says the city has a lot of talent and they have a big park to fill with stars.

“It's going to be a big battle to see who's next. It's not necessarily about who's not going to be there, but about who's next.”