On May 23rd, I picked up my friend, Mark, and we headed out on the road to Maryland. We encountered no traffic jams in Chicago (that's a rarity), so we arrived in Maryland on the night of the 24th.
The morning of the 25th, we drove about 80 miles to Bethany Beach, Delaware. Mark had never seen the Atlantic Ocean before, so I figured it would be fun. The water was freezing (about 48 degrees I think), and my ankles started getting numb after only 15-20 seconds in the water. Mark, insisting that he had to actually swim in the ocean, really did. He was crazy, and he only stayed in for 8 or 10 seconds. I considered it necessary to point out to Mark that every other SANE individual in the water that day had a wetsuit on. It didn't phase Mark.
We then headed back to Sandy Cove Ministries and presented my first show, the "Professional Goofball Show". This was the first time Sandy Cove has had a family camp on Memorial weekend. They had over 500 people there! I think it was enough of a success that they'll do it again next year.
Being that it was Memorial weekend, we also visited the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, and the World War II Memorial. There were 1000s of motorcycles there, because the group, Rolling Thunder, puts on the Memorial Weekend events at the capital. The war memorials were very humbling,when you realize how many hundreds of thousands have given their lives so that we in the United States can have the many freedoms we do. It really bothers me when I hear U.S. citizens grumble about the U.S. and its "many faults", yet they grumble while driving to the good job they have, in the car that they paid for with the high wages that they were able to earn, on the way from the home that they are allowed to own, after kissing their 3 children (that weren't limited by the government), listening to the free radio waves that are not solely political channels, driving by the capital that houses the offices of the elected officials that they voted for, that work alongside a president that they don't even support. Sometimes it feels as if we live in the "Divided States of America". Pray for unity for our country and all of its citizens at this time. Let's concentrate on the "United" part of the United States. ---(getting off my soapbox now)---
Mark & I then headed back to Sandy Cove to do my second program, The "Doctor of Merriment" show. It went so well. The entertainment was fun, and I really felt as if the message was as clear as it has ever been. It's amazing how God can use each one of us to minister to others, usually in ways that we can't even imagine. This whole weekend was a great time of doing touristy things, performing, ministering and visiting with friends.
Saturday night after the program we drove to Mount Airy, Maryland, to stay with my good friends Dave & Rachel. We didn't get much time to visit, but it is always good to see them and their family.
You never know what you'll find on your trips, but click here to see an odd one.
I dropped Mark off at his house around 2 PM on Monday, and I headed home to a BIG SURPRISE:
Deanna was riding down the street on a unicycle! Why is that so BIG? Because until yesterday, she was the only one in our family that didn't ride one yet. Now, our entire family rides unicycles. I foresee a cool addition to some of the shows, when all 4 of us come riding out onstage on unicycles. It has become a total family affair. Now THAT's cool! I'm so proud. I'll post a photo as soon as I can. And, remaining true to my promise, that if/when each of our kids learns to ride a unicycle, I will buy them one of their own, I ordered Deanna her own unicycle. When I think about it, this trip keeps costing me more and more...
Thanks again to all of you for your support in this ministry. I never imagined the amazing doors that would open for me over the years. I can ONLY imagine the new paths that still lay ahead. God is amazing me, day after day.
Yesterday I had the privilege of performing in a beautiful theatre, with a wonderful cast, for a great cause. The show was "A Gift of Grace...", presented by Grace Episcopal Church of Menomonie, Wisconsin.
First, the theatre. The show was in the restored Mabel Tainter Theatre. If you've never been there (and I hadn't until yesterday), try and get there to see it (or click on the 2 photos below). It's a very old vaudeville theatre in Menomonie, being completely restored and renovated. The interior was absolutely gorgeous. Wood scroll work, velour draperies and curtains, even elevator trapdoors built right into the stage (oh how I wish I knew the famous magicians that had passed through those trapdoors over the years).
The cast of the show included myself as the first half of the show, and Warren Petryk as the second half. Warren is from Wisconsin, and has been performing for more than 30 years on his own, and as part of the musical group, The Memories. He sang, played piano, and "dueted" with one of his voice students (whom I neglected to get her name). They did patriotic songs, Gospel songs, and songs from famous musicals. Together it was really, really nice.
The MC of the show, and also my very gracious host, was Mr Steve Russell, of In Capable Hands. Steve tried out some new, and funny material. The hit for the audience was the fact that Steve had forgotten his shirt. While making his shirt magically reappear back on himself, he succeeded in losing the rear end of his pants. Thank heavens for funny boxer shorts! It was a riot. Steve, and his wife Kobi, travel around the U.S. with their variety shows, including a recent appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. (Quick note: Steve & I first met way back in 1986 while working at Disneyland. Over the years we sort of lost touch with each other, and just recently got back in touch. AND, Steve & Kobi met each other while both were involved in Ringling Brothers' Clown College! There's a unique story for ya.)
The reason for the event was to raise money for the Interfaith Food Pantry of Dunn County. Local sponsors paid the costs of the show, so that all ticket money, and bakery sale goods, would go directly to the food pantry.
Grace Episcopal Church is a growing congregation of people filled with a spirit of service, community involvement, and love. They are preparing to move into their new, larger facility in Menomonie. Pray that their growth is continual, and that they will be able to continue offering the community events such as these. I'm thankful to have been offered a part of this fun event.
Please pray for those I mentioned in this entry, that they would continue to have a great impact on not only the Menomonie area, but around the United States and anywhere else they get the opportunity to perform and minister to.
Some of you know about the Grin Doctors, but for those that don't, here is a quick synopsis:
Mike Norton, of the Musical Magical Menagerie, and myself, put a show together combining the best of my shows and the best of Mike's shows, to be used as an evangelistic event for churches. We presented it for the first time about 3 years ago. We revived it again twice last year, and then were asked to do so again for an event here in Mora last month.
The difference this time, was that it was presented simply as an entertainment event for the community of Mora, Minnesota. Buzz Venhuizen, from the Grand Event Center, asked Mike & I if we would present it at his new venue. We did, and it was a lot of fun.
For the ticket price, every guest had free pizza and pop, plus the full 90-minute show! That's a great deal. There were a few small hitches, but nothing the three of us couldn't deal with. Overall, it was another great night of entertainment, right here, within our own community.
Thanks go to Buzz for all of his work getting the word out about the show, to Mike for going the extra mile, including with his lighting and staging work, and to all the folks that came out to be a part of the show. We look forward to doing it again in the future. Stay tuned...
Last weekend, both Debbie & I were in the community play, The Importance of Being Ernest. a play by Oscar Wilde. Debbie played the part of Gwendolen Fairfax, and I played the smaller part of Merriman, the butler.
We had a fun cast to work with, all folks from the general Mora area. We performed the play three times last weekend, and it was a lot of fun.
As soon as I get the pictures of the cast, I will post one of them here.
Get ready folks, this is a long entry. Because of the amount of pictures, I have had to post them separately. Click HERE to view the photos with captions.
On April 29th, my daughter, Deanna, and I boarded a plane headed for Miami, Florida. We spent the night in a Miami hotel, ate at Taco Bell, and headed for the Carnival cruise ship, the Fascination.
I was invited, at the last minute, to perform for all of the families with kids on board the cruise, and was given the only available performance slot still open. With only one performance, I wanted to really meet folks on the cruise, so I did some strolling magic for the hundreds waiting to get on the ship. While I was strolling, Deanna took our luggage on board the ship, and was invited to have lunch with former Survivor star, Austin Carty. Of course, as soon as lunch was done, Deanna quickly called my wife, Debbie, at school (Deb is a Survivor fanatic, and almost got onto the show (a story for another time)) to tell her who she just had lunch with. Deb was feeling a little jealous, but insisted Deanna get an autograph. She did.
I also did some strolling entertainment, including magic and napkin roses, for the audiences waiting for concerts to start. It was a great time for me to meet with people face to face, since I was a "no name" on the cruise of many famous people.
Then, there were 7 Christian comedians aboard, who used their two performance slots to film their next two DVDs. They were David Dean (another parent that likes making fun of his kids), Bean & Bailey (a straight man/ funny man team), Rich Praytor (GMA Best Comedian of the Year), Cleto Rodriguez (makes wonderful light of his Mexican heritage), John Branyan (a high-energy, Mr. Bean-like character), and the ring leader of them all, Mike Williams (search out his inspiring Eagle Song on the Internet). Watch your stores for the soon to be released DVDs. Deanna & I were in quite a few shots, so you might even see us in there somewhere.
The destination of the cruise was Ocho Rios, Jamaica. When we arrived, we tried to do a little shopping, and that's where we met the "Muffin Man". Do YOU know the Muffin Man? This "retailer of Jamaican goods" offered us some of his "healthy" muffins. As he lifted them out of the shallow box he was carrying them in, he made it very clear what he was REALLY trying to sell us. For just below the muffins was neatly wrapped parcels of what could only be Jamaican marijuana. We passed him by, to instead shop at the flea market, purchasing a few smaller, more legal items for our family back in Minnesota.
As we were leaving the Jamaican port, Deanna & I tried our hand at mini-golf on the ship. Well, on hole #9, Deanna decided she wanted to take a new route from the tee to the hole. After 16 tries off of the tee, 2 innocent, injured people at a nearby table, some other laughing passer-bys, me running for cover, and Deanna's golf ball almost going into the ocean, she finally was able to sink her ball into the hole. When it finally went in, I think I heard a cheer go up from the folks on the upper deck that were watching.
One of the funny things we enjoyed while on the cruise, and were able to convince other cruise guests to try, was to ride the elevator down to the main floor just as the concerts were getting out, and as the doors opened, we took pictures of the folks waiting, in a startled manner, for the elevator. I have chosen not to print any of those pictures here (to protect the innocents from seeing their own surprised looks), but whenever I look at them, I still laugh out loud.
During my show, on Tuesday, Deanna took quite a few pictures, but due to the lack of bright lights, only a few turned out. If you haven't already, click HERE to view the cruise photos.
On two of the evenings, Deanna & I went into the VIP dining area to quickly eat dinner and get over to stroll before the concert of the evening. I met two wonderful wait staff, Marko (from Bosnia) and Aysu (from Mesopotamia). Marko showed me some magic tricks he knew, and I taught them some I knew, as well as how to make a napkin rose for future guests. Please pray for these two folks, that they would continue to meet other Christians in their travels, and that God would provide for all of their needs.
I would like to finish this entry out by mentioning to all of you that have kids, as well as a digital camera, that our kids love to take pictures of just about anything. Deanna especially loves to take pictures of herself. So, I have posted a few pictures that were taken on the cruise, just to show how much fun it is to hang out with my daughter for a week on board a cruise ship.
The performance times went well. The times of ministry were inspiring. The people I met were very gracious. The staff on board the ship were more than accommodating in every regard.
I am scheduled to perform again next January on the KLOVE Friends and Family Cruise, heading to Cozumel, Mexico. If you are interested in joining us, scroll down to the bottom of my blog and click on the banner you see there.
May God bless you as much as He has me and my family. There is joy in the journey.
Well, I returned from my work on the Music Boat Cruise last Friday evening, but I have not had a day to sit down and write out the details. So, until next Monday, when I think I'll have the time, here is a picture of Deanna & I, taken on the cruise.