Dining With Denise Neil

Is Sugar Ray really performing at a Wichita Applebee’s?

Screenshot of a Facebook event page that has many people believing they’ll see Sugar Ray at a Wichita Applebee’s in August.
Screenshot of a Facebook event page that has many people believing they’ll see Sugar Ray at a Wichita Applebee’s in August.

They keep calling and calling, and no matter how forcefully she insists, the callers do not believe Martha Baker.

Sugar Ray absolutely is not performing at the Applebee’s on South Broadway in Wichita in August.

The Facebook event page that says otherwise, posted by “HoodPocohontas” earlier this week, has spread and spread. As of Friday, 449 people have indicated they’ll be there, and another 873 say they’re interested.

“When we tell them it’s not happening, they say, ‘Oh, we understand. It’s an under-the-radar concert. We’ll be there at 6 in the morning to line up,’ ” said Baker, director of marketing for Stevens Enterprises Inc., the owner of Wichita’s Applebee’s franchise.

“People will not accept that it is not real, but it is not real.”

HoodPocohontas is a “meme” page administered by several local people. It’s part of a subculture known as “Weird Facebook,” which consists of meme pages and secret groups.

Mark McGrath, Sugar Ray’s lead singer, joined in the fun, posting several tweets Friday:

Similar fake events have been springing up around the country. Alerted by a fake Facebook event page last month, hundreds of people showed up for a Limp Bizkit concert at a Dayton, Ohio, gas station. The huge crowd that gathered forced the gas station to close.

Local comedian Daniel Pewewardy said he created the invite this week. He did it to amuse a friend, who is a big Sugar Ray fan. He forgot it was there – until it took off.

“I had no clue that it would pick up like it has,” he said.

The invite is persuasive, even offering “half-price Appletizers and 3 dollar Long Islands all day.” It promises to provide parking details later.

The dozens of comments on the page range from excitement to skepticism to “come on people” sentiments.

Was Pewewardy hoping to prank music fans?

“I have a tough time calling the event a prank,” he said. “I really figured it was absurd enough that no one would believe it.”

But many people have believed it, enough that they’ve logged on to the South Broadway Applebee’s Facebook page in droves. The page has been viewed 2,700 times in the past 24 hours, Baker said.

On Thursday, she put a post on the page alerting people that there would be no Sugar Ray concert at the restaurant.

Baker said she is surprised that someone would be bored enough to create such havoc. She loves Sugar Ray – which is scheduled to play in Salt Lake City on Aug. 5 – and wishes it were true. But it’s not.

Still, she’ll have her staff prepared on Aug. 5.

“My guess is that people are going to show up,” she said. “The day itself could be a real nightmare.”

Denise Neil: 316-268-6327, @deniseneil