Amblin' activists
Hanson, teen pop idols turned adult rockers, use barefoot stroll to highlight cause.

By Kelly Federico

Of The Morning Call

May 3, 2008

Pop-rock trio Hanson -- the handsome brothers best known for the 1997 hit ''MMMBop'' -- took a barefoot walk Friday afternoon through downtown Allentown with a crowd of about 250 fans to raise awareness of poverty and AIDS in Africa.

''The turnout is amazing; we've had incredible support here in Allentown,'' said Taylor Hanson. ''It's really motivating for us and it's great people are feeling it's important to make an impact. It's hard to get people to take off their shoes but it's great to see people want to be a part of this.''

Taylor, Isaac and Zac, now all married and in their 20s, were interspersed throughout the crowd as they walked from Crocodile Rock, where they played to a sold-out crowd Friday night, down Hamilton Street to 11th Street and back again. They were armed with bullhorns to rally for their cause, an outgrowth of their 2007 album, ''The Walk,'' which explores the personal and social responsibilities that come with maturity. They spoke to fans and took pictures with them.

About half of the mostly female and twenty-something fans joined the Hanson brothers in walking barefoot for the mile-long trek, an event that the trio has been staging before all the shows on their current tour. Some people came from out-of-town to walk with the group. One group from Pittsburgh said they have walked five times with Hanson already. Those who participated received a hand stamp so they could bypass the line at the show.

''I wanted to walk with Hanson because they are doing a very good cause and they are sending shoes over to Africa and it's great that they're raising awareness,'' said Lori Carita, 25, of Allentown. ''I'm very excited about the concert tonight. I've seen them maybe five or six times. I've been a fan of Hanson since the ''MMMBop'' days.''

When the walk began a little after 3 p.m., the crowd was rowdy and focused on getting pictures of the three singers, who rose to fame as teens. The frenzy died down during the walk and by 4 p.m. it was over.

The procession stopped twice -- once at PPL Plaza and once at Center Square -- so Taylor could make speeches on the brothers' decision to get involved with a cause.

''When we were making [''The Walk''] we were inspired to go to Africa. When our generation sees the problems in Africa, we wonder if that's our problem. You see parents and young people, the engine of society, dying, people in their prime; it's you guys. That's why you need to get involved,'' said Taylor, 25.

Later, in Center Square, Taylor thanked the crowd for their participation and encouraged them to get involved.

''People don't have to follow us. Just because you like us, doesn't mean you have to take off your shoes and walk a mile. We as a generation need to decide that we're going to raise the bar, we can become a greater group of people. This thing you never think about, a pair of shoes, this could change a life.''