Will Beekman, executive director of the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts in Wilkes-Barre:
1. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a New York Mets fan, but not everyone knows the extent of it. I once skipped a final exam during my senior year at Penn State and drove to Queens to see the Mets clinch the 2000 National League pennant. Thirteen years later, when my first daughter was born, I gave her the middle name of “Shea” in honor of the Mets’ longtime home stadium. I also am the proud owner of two seats from Shea Stadium that my mom bought me after the stadium started being demolished in 2008.
2. Everyone hears about the performers who come to the F.M. Kirby Center, but not everyone knows what goes on backstage. Two of the scarier moments involved two legendary entertainers falling on our stage. In 2012, 85-year-old Tony Bennett stumbled and fell following his performance. In 2015, 83-year-old Loretta Lynn fell before her performance. Thankfully, both artists sprang to their feet and dusted themselves off in time to take photos with our staff. They were both kind and gracious.
3. I’m 39 years old, but I still call my parents every night at 9 p.m. to say goodnight to them. I’ll admit it was a little awkward on my honeymoon when I had to call them from Hawaii every day at 3 p.m. local time. Luckily, my wife is a good sport.
4. I have a list of things I say to my daughters every morning before I leave them for the day. On mornings when I have to leave before they wake up, I record myself saying it so they can watch the video before they start their day. They are everything to me. It’s corny, I know.
5. The guitar has always been my favorite instrument. I can play it a little. I’m not awesome, but I can hold my own. My job has afforded me the opportunity to see some great guitarists – Buddy Guy, Joe Bonamassa, Joe Walsh, etc. – but my favorite guitar player is my dad. I’ve spent many nights listening to him play, and they are among my favorite memories.
6. I absolutely hate flying. My job requires it a few times every year, so I do it. I don’t let it hold me back, but I absolutely hate it. I have some crazy, superstitious routines that I go through every time I fly, but I’ll save those for another time. One of my favorite movies growing up was “La Bamba,” which I can only assume didn’t help.
7. I take issue with people who put ketchup on hot dogs. Actually, that isn’t totally true. My 4-year-old can get away with it. But I have no use for the rest of you.
8. In 1988, pitcher Dwight Gooden tossed me a baseball prior to a Mets-Phillies game at Veterans Stadium. For a 10-year-old Mets fan, it was a cool moment that I have always carried with me. I’m not the best when it comes to holding onto things, but I’ve never lost sight of that baseball. It still sits on my dresser to this day. A few years ago, my wife had an opportunity to see Gooden at a public event, so she snuck the ball out of our bedroom and had him sign it for me some 26 years after he threw it to me. Did I mention I’m a Mets fan?
9. I always wanted to be a weatherman. In fact, I first attended Penn State as a meteorology major before before realizing I wasn’t cut out for that type of career. But it still is something that interests and fascinates me. I eventually graduated in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in English and then received my bachelor’s in journalism in 2002, so, naturally, I now run a performing arts center. It’s a mixed up, crazy world.
10. I once bought Bill Cosby a cup of coffee, and he never paid me back. It’s cool. I’m over it.
— Written for timesleader.com