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Spice Girls Open N. American Tour

June 16, 1998

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ The Spice Girls made their North American debut with a rendition of ``We Are Family″ _ and nary a mention of the Prodigal Spice.

Even without Ginger, a.k.a. Geri Halliwell, the British girl group seemed to have just the right seasoning to keep thousands of pig-tailed and glittered pre-teen fans squealing Monday night.

``Girl Power,″ declared 12-year-old Bailey Ebbitt of Pompano Beach, who determined that was the force which kept the other four Spice Girls together.

``They’re strong-willed to go on,″ agreed Bailey’s friend, 11-year-old Alexandra Hepp, who said she was disappointed when Halliwell quit the group in May, citing unspecified ``differences.″

At 25, Ginger had been the oldest and a dominant member of the group. The remaining four, Scary Spice (Melanie Brown), Posh Spice (Victoria Adams), Baby Spice (Emma Bunton), and Sporty Spice (Melanie Chisolm), appeared with opera singer Luciano Pavarotti at a charity event last week in Modena, Italy.

Reporters from around the world followed the Spice Girls to Florida as they began their 40-city North American tour. The group didn’t answer any questions before the show, although they did pose for pictures.

Ginger was never mentioned by the gals _ but she was hardly out of sight.

Videos shown on a giant screen on stage flashed several images of the former Spice. Each time, the audience shrieked with delight.

``I think they’re finally going to ask her to come back because they’re friends,″ predicted 9-year-old Fawn Smith, who wore her hair in pigtails, just like her favorite Spice, Baby.

In addition to their hits ``Wannabe″ and ``Too Much,″ the Girls also treated fans who weathered near-100-degree heat to covers of the women-empowering ``Sisters,″ the Supremes’ ``Where Did Our Love Go?″ and ``We Are Family.″

``We love the Spice Girls and their music is so cool, and how they dress,″ said 15-year-old Kathy Garcia, of North Miami, adorned in a halter top and black athletic pants to look like her favorite Spice, Sporty.

The Spice Girls have sold 32 million albums in 2 1/2 years, putting them among the top-selling pop groups of the 1990s.

But don’t be fooled into thinking young girls are the only fans. Eleven-year-old Danny Nardini of Fort Lauderdale was unabashed in his assessment of the concert, which he saw with his mother and younger sister.

``It was very sexy,″ he said. ``The music, the dances. All of them.″

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