I hope that all my puppetry fans and friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. My family and I watched the Macy’s parade on television (where was the Underdog balloon?), shared a delicious meal together, took a walk around our neighborhood to the playground, and enjoyed each others company.
Cyril and his puppeteer, Terrence Burke
Later in the evening I performed my puppet show at the Ronald McDonald House near Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati. I have been donating shows for the guests for two years now. Every show I perform there is special. Why? Because for thirty minutes or so I let the children and families forget about the reason they are staying at the Ronald McDonald House and share my imagination with them. Nothing more. Sharing my love of puppetry, singing a silly song, telling a goofy joke, having a bit of fun.
As I prepared to pack up the puppets and the stage, a noticed a young boy who was about four years old standing in the theatre with his parents. I offered him one of our coloring pages to color. He seemed rather shy, so I was sure to give him space. Suddenly he perked up and asked to see “the blue puppet” (which is our “Monster of Ceremonies” Cyril). The boy began to open up to Cyril, ignoring that I was operating and voicing the puppet. He asked Cyril many questions about his purple beard, where does his voice come from, and how does he pop up from the puppet stage. All along his father was snapping photos of his son interacting with the puppet. It was a wonderful moment for me. This is why I am a puppeteer. I brought magic to this young boy’s life for half an hour.
When the gear was all packed up and ready to be loaded, I passed the reception desk to have one of the volunteers tell me she overheard many of the children exit the theatre saying, “That was an awesome puppet show!”. She thanked me for spending my Thanksgiving evening entertaining the children and guests and asked if I would come back again. You bet I will!
This made my Thanksgiving special.
On Tuesday evening I had the pleasure of performing for the guests at the Ronald McDonald House in Cincinnati. I am honored that the staff invited me to entertain the children and their families and share my love of puppetry with them for an hour of their day.
When I was a young boy I made a few trips to the hospital. I remember that they can be very scary place for children. As an toddler I found the open cellar door and rode my walker straight down the cellar stairs. Luckily I can’t remember this. My parents told me that I was cut up pretty bad. As I grew up I had my share of stitches and other common childhood bangs & scrapes, nothing serious enough to stay in the hospital. Our community is very fortunate to have the Ronald McDonald House available to families who’s children need special care.
The Bulletin Board at Ronald McDonald House with Wump Mucket Puppets photo.
Meeting with the children in the audience after the show was a very heart warming experience. One little girl told me that she was going to make a sister for Cyril when she went home. Several of the children let their imaginations wander and pretended to swim around the theatre with Cyril and his tail. It was a magical moment that I will never forget.
After the puppets were packed into the Wump Mucket mobile, I took a tour of the Ronald McDonald House with volunteers Rhiannon Jones and her grandmother (who’s been a RMHC volunteer for over 10 years!). What an amazing place it is! Not only do they have a children’s theatre that is perfect for a puppet show (and swimming with sea serpents), but there is a library, large lounges to relax or read in, a game room, and guest rooms for the families staying there. Everyone who volunteers, donates, and helps in what ever way that they can are “fab-tastic” people! Thanks again to the guests and staff for allowing me the opportunity to share my talents with you.
I am donating a child’s birthday party puppet show to the silent auction at the Northside Generations concert. This fundraiser is to help replace the banners that hang over the Ludlow viaduct to welcome visitors to our funky neighborhhood. In addition to the musical performances, that feature different generations of Northsiders, there will be a silent auction of goods and services donated by people in the neighborhood.
Here’s a photo of the “gift card” that I made:
I hope that the auction goes well, and look forward to perform my one of a kind puppet shows at a lucky neighbor’s birthday party.
Here’s the info about the event:
7:00 – 11:00 PM
The Deaf Club
3938 Spring Grove Avenue
For information 513-542-2500
One of my favorite Sesame Street songs has always been “Who Are The People in Your Neighborhood”. I often sing it to my children, and still feel that children should know the various names and faces in their little world. I love the feeling of a community. I guess this started about the same time I started watching Sesame Street in 1969 on my family’s tiny black & white tee-vee set in Ballardvale, Massachusetts. It was in that village, that is located in the town of Andover, that I learned about the people in my neighborhood. Mr. Beacott ran the Corner Cupboard (a small variety store & lunch counter), Bill Miller fixed cars next to our house at Shawsheen Service gas station, Mr. Cronin owned the ice cream distribution business down the street (where I would later work for a Summer in high school), Mrs. Sharpe was the village branch librarian, Mr. Trombly was the barber who gave me my first professional hair cut, and Henry the mailman delivered our family’s mail with a smile everyday. These golden memories have stayed with me all my life, and I feel that my children may be missing some of that simple magic of what it was like to live in a neighborhood. I guess we have some of it still. Maybe it’s that the Sesame Street song brings back those memories? In any case I’ll be happy to be known as the Northside puppeteer and I am proud to help my neighborhood.