A refreshing gust of wind cut through the spongy heat on a hazy Sunday afternoon and caught one of the six juggling pins Nick Gregory had tossed to Dave Gillies.

The wandering pin landed just shy of a boy seated to the left of the performers.

"Pretend you didn't see that," Gillies urged his audience. The crowd, including the boy, laughed.

Gillies and Gregory, two members of the Give and Take Jugglers of Philadelphia - Erica Saben was the third - were part of the entertainment at Race Street Pier.

The $6.5 million, 13-acre park below the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, at the foot of Race Street, opened May 12. Events Saturday and Sunday were designed by the Delaware River Waterfront Corp. and Friends of Race Street Pier to draw holiday weekend visitors to the city's newest park, formerly Municipal Pier 11.

Among the activities scheduled Sunday were performances by the Brass Heaven band, magician Ran'D Shine, the jugglers, and DJ Guy Smith.

Oney Temple, 25, of New York, had taken the train from Manhattan "just to do something different," he said. He ate lunch in Chinatown, then walked east to the river.

"This is great," Temple said, standing between two fishermen at the edge of the 540-foot pier as he folded a map of the city back into his shirt pocket, adding quickly that "we do have this stuff in New York."

The park is a blend of deck and green space, but very much an urban environment.

At times, there can be heard the combined sound of a PATCO High-Speed Line train rumbling to New Jersey on the bridge, the whoosh of cars on I-95 just west of the pier, duck tours in the inlet next to the park, and tugs and barges on the river.

The pier is intended primarily as a place to hang out rather than to attend events as elsewhere on Penn's Landing, but those there Sunday were clearly happy to do both.

Gillies, Gregory, and Saben made the most of the audience's enthusiasm by trying to bring onto the stage - a semicircle set off by yellow wiring affixed to the deck - as many people as would fit.

For one demonstration, Gillies and Gregory lined up four pint-size volunteers - named Ashley, Freddie, Ramir, and Natalie - and tossed the juggling pins to one another in front of and behind the line of children.

"If you are scared, close your eyes," Gregory told them. "That's what we do."

Audience members were brought up to balance spinning plates on sticks and balls on folded hands with two fingers extended up.

Gregory, originally from Boston, made much of the tennis scholarship that had paid his way through Temple University.

He juggled three tennis rackets, using one for a backhand, one for a forehand, and one to serve.

"I went to West Chester University, but I was an English major so spent most of my time in the library," Gillies said.

He asked Gregory what he had majored in at Temple.

"Communications," Gregory replied.

"You never told me that," Gillies shot back, laughing.

Contact staff writer Alan J. Heavens at 215-854-2472 or aheavens@phillynews.com.