Library hosts veteran magician for children’s show

The Claremont Library hosted veteran magician Jay Leslie for a children’s show on Wednesday, July 19, as part of the library’s weekly summer children’s’ programs.

The show was a hit for both children and parents, being so well attended library staff had to turn some patrons away due to a lack of space in the performance room.

“It was very fun,” said Caleb Van Brunt, who Mr. Leslie called out of the audience to participate in the show. “It’s cool to just be the spotlight,” he added.

Caleb’s parents have been taking him to library events for six years, since he was three years old.

“It’s our local library and we like to support it,” said David VanBrunt, Caleb’s father. “He loves the shows.”

Throughout his show, Mr. Leslie used his tricks to emphasize the importance of learning, reading and the power of dedication to one’s dreams and goals.

“You can’t preach to them, they’ll figure it out there’s a message to it,” he said. “I like telling them that if you see something and you like it, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.”

During his show, Mr. Leslie weaved in elements of his own biography and told audience members how he learned magic—through reading, study from other magicians and hard work.

“I like to weave a little tale of success for them,” he said.

Mr. Leslie decided he wanted to become a magician when he was just eight years old and saw a magician on television, and his career took off from there.

At age 14, he began performing on the syndicated Bozo the Clown Show, during which time he performed 130 live shows in a year. He also performed live matinee shows before movies, and is one of the last living magicians who did so.

Mr. Leslie went on to perform at Busch Gardens amusement park in Pennsylvania as the first street magician at any amusement park in the world, earning him a great reputation in the amusement park business.

Afterward, Mr. Leslie led a traveling illusion show in California and performed in fundraisers. He is now semi-retired, and creates illusions for other magicians worldwide.

Although Mr. Leslie’s show was designed primarily for children, he kept the parents in the audience entertained as well.

“I don’t want the adults getting bored, so I throw in some jokes for them too,” he said.

The show was very successful in bringing patrons into the library, as many of the audience members excitedly dispersed throughout the library upon the show’s conclusion.

“If they get in their cars and go home, then they didn’t have a good time,” Mr. Leslie said, upon exiting the performance room and seeing the library packed with excited children and their parents. “This shows that they really enjoyed it.”

The magic show was one of a series of weekly summer library events. The library has free children’s programs every Wednesday at 2 p.m. and tween and teen programs every Thursday at 2 p.m. through the end of July. Free chess and checkers sets and refreshments will be available to patrons of all ages on Tuesdays at 2 p.m. through August 29.

—Marc Rod



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