Giving thanks in 2017

Giving thanks in 2017

Wump Mucket Puppets - A Puppet Rocker's Blog

It is the Sunday after Thanksgiving 2017 as I write this blog.  Coffee has been made, my children are still sleeping, and our new cat Piper has been fed (more on her in a bit).  2017 has been another year of growth for myself and Wump Mucket Puppets.  

Look at the SMILES! @fallfeastcincinnati #Thanksgiving #FallFeast #Cincinnati #puppeteer #shareJOY

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My puppets have performed for so many people this year, including our fourth year at Fall Feast Cincinnati on Thanksgiving Day.  It was during these performances that I began to think how fortunate I am to be a puppeteer in the age of instant digital entertainment.  It takes time, including many late nights, some frustration (especially with using computers), and lots of hard work to get to where I am now.  What the audience sees onstage is thirty minutes of fun, that has taken many, many weeks of puppet building, script and song writing, and prop building/painting.  And I love every step of producing a puppet show. It thrills me that my audience is enjoying it too.  I am thankful for having the opportunity to perform for so many children.

Our pal Alex loved Q.B. at @fallfeastcincinnati #Thanksgiving #FallFeast #Cincinnati #puppeteer #shareJOY

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So why do I puppeteer?  Why spend weeks working on a puppet that will be performing for only five minutes in a show?  Why do I drive hundreds and hundreds of miles around the country to reach my audience?  The answer is one word, LOVE.  I love what I do.  I love to hear children laugh and clap when my characters perform.  I love having a parent tell me that their child sings my silly songs at home.  I love when my son helps me set up the stage and sound equipment, or when my daughter gives me feedback on a puppet design or song idea.  I love sharing joy through puppetry.

And speaking of love, we have a new family member, our family adopted Piper this past week.  She came to us through Cincinnati Cats, she is eight years old and blind.  Piper has won our hearts with her charm and cuddling.  

Meet Piper, our new family member. She is eight years old and blind. #adoptedcat #blindcat #cat

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Everyday is Halloween for us in October

Everyday is Halloween for us in October

I love performing The Kooky Spooky Halloween Show for our audiences.  2017 is the second year that the puppets have brought our special brand of Halloween kookiness to our pals.  We are very grateful that they enjoy our spooky silliness.

For me, Halloween should be a fun time for children (and adults).  Offering us time to  celebrate and make believe together, minus terrifying images or horrific creatures.  Sadly there’s plenty of horror in the real world.  Today’s audience at Our Daily Bread was just that, people having a fun time together with a bit of spooky silliness.

Since opening the show at the Behringer-Crawford Museum in Covington, KY, we have performed to hundreds of happy kids that totally understand my style of make-believe.  They have giggled at Unka Unka’s mistakes on holiday greetings (and helped him out), assisted Witch Willie cast her scaring spell (which never seems to work), and told me that they love our new puppet character Gourdon the pumpkin man. 

Gourdon and Witch Willie have even found the time in their busy puppet star schedules to make their world radio debut on Cincinnati’s NPR affiliate 91.7 WVXU ‘s weekend arts program “Around Cincinnati” with a great interview conducted by media journalist John Kieswetter.  This was fun interview to record.  John had great questions for me, and it gave me a chance to talk about the show, our new puppet, and growing up in Andover, Massachusetts.  Enough babbling from me, why not just give it a listen?
Listen to the interview HERE                                    (Photo by John Kieswetter)

No matter how you celebrate Halloween, I hope that you and your family have a fun and safe one.  If you should happen to have children in your life, be sure to bring them to my puppet show.  

Thanksgiving Special

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

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.

Sharing Joy

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.

Wump Mucket Puppets stage at Ronald McDonald House Cincinnati

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.

Bulletin Board at Ronald McDonald House Cincinnati

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.

Wump Mucket Puppets at Ronald McDonald House Cincinnati

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.

Puppetry for my neighborhood’s silent auction

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:
Generations Silent Auction card

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.