Within minutes, two little girls, walking down the avenue with their mom, froze in their tracks and said, almost in unison, "It's a bunny rabbit!"
They commenced to pet Pinky and chat him up as if he were their new best friend.
Lee and Pinky will co-star at a free festival of family entertainment and food at the Northeast Celebration, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Max Myers Playground, on Hellerman Street near Horrocks.
The lineup includes Giggles, the face-painting clown (Lee's wife, Jocelyn), caricature and balloon artists, and live animal sessions with the Philadelphia Zoo and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.
There will be tumbling and dance performances, and jazz and rock bands from the Settlement Music School's Kardon-Northeast Branch.
Families can take a hands-on art lesson with the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and do clay modeling with the Clay Studio.
And some lucky kids will help Lee and Pinky do magic. "You know you're good," Lee said, "if people come up to you 10 years later and say, 'This is my daughter. She's 17 now. Remember when you did her 7-year-old birthday party?' That's why I have a kid help with every trick."
Proudly wearing his silver vest with "Dee the Magician" in elegant black script, Lee said, "When I left my government job in August 2008 to do this full time, all those people who thought I was crazy are still sitting there in those cubicles. You only get one life. You have to roll the dice."
Sharyn Solomon, who worked for months on the celebration with her colleagues at Take Back Your Neighborhood, the Castor Gardens community group that is hosting the event, said, "This day will be huge!"
She thanked TD Bank, the city's Parks & Recreation department and the Collins family, whose supermarkets include a local ShopRite, for "extremely generous" donations to make the Northeast Celebration possible.
On Twitter: @DanGeringer