This past year hasn't been precisely magical.
With the pandemic and the political divide, there is a constant worry. Celebrating 20 years as a full-time magician and entertainer is a terrible year. Pandemic! Ahhh!!! 20 years! Ahhh!!!
Here's what changed for this magician.
“Be safe, be smart, be kind.” - Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, in the first months of the pandemic.
Poof! The Audience Has Vanished
Last January, I was on a cruise ship when the first COVID case broke out in the United States. The cruise industry was in panic mode. Travel restrictions were changing overnight, and I had friends who ended up stranded on cruise ships for months. (Read: My Last Cruise Before the Pandemic)
Except for one international round-trip flight to Central America, I didn’t travel in 2020.
I barely drove.
It’s the longest continuous time I’ve spent at home in twenty years.
I’ve always wanted to be more involved within my community, and for all the pandemics’ negatives, home time was a massive win for this guy. There was also an abundance of opportunities to get involved. Almost overnight, video production and livestreaming content became an essential tool for everyone.
We were all forced into ZOOMing, so what exactly does a magician do without an audience?
Here are three changes from the year that nearly killed magic.
Last year was content crazy. There were many virtual events and projects (too many?) In addition to celebrating over 100 Magicians Talking Magic Podcast episodes Magicians Talking Magic Podcast with Graeme Reed, here are three unique projects that I thought might interest you.
Changes During the Pandemic
#3 -Pivoting magic to monsters
My township in Ontario is geographically unique. A Grand River runs. Through it, limestone cliffs converge into this stunning gorge. Mother nature was kind to Elora & Fergus.
It’s also been a magnet for artists and creative types.
One of those artists is Tim Murton. Nearly twenty years ago, he started a local Halloween tradition that has grown to attract tens of thousands of people each year. Tim has created a collection of over seventy monsters that illuminate the downtown for the entire month of October.
It’s a tradition he’s continued every year-- except for one.
Tim explained that he decided not to decorate the town with his Twilight Zoo creatures one year and was surprised to have tourists knocking on his door looking for monsters.
It’s been a regular feature in Elora ever since.
A few years ago, Tim sold his collection of monsters to Sensational Elora, a non-profit organization that organizes year-round community events. They continued the tradition with the help of a few volunteers. Despite vandals who set fire and destroyed several ghouls, last year during COVID, 2020 was an incredible year for Monster Month.
I'm thrilled to share with you a look at the magic behind Monster Month in Elora, Ontario. You'll meet the fantastic people and efforts behind Monster Month. Be sure and check out Monster Month’s website, and better yet, get involved.
Visit monstermonth.ca and donate.
WATCH: Monster Mentary: The Story Behind Monster Month
#2 - Two Canadian magicians making history
One of the projects closest to my heart is serving on the Canadian Association of Magicians Executive Board. CAM is one of only five magician societies in North America that is recognized by the World Championship of Magic (FISM).
The World Championship of Magic is magic’s equivalent of the Olympics. Every three years, the six-day convention and competition draw upwards of ten thousand people worldwide. Some magicians compete for the title of FISM Grand Prix Champion.
Each championship is presented in a different location, but the World Championships of Magic has never come to North America since its founding in 1946.
Because of the Canadian Association of Magicians, a historic decision was announced in Busan, South Korea, that the upcoming 2022 FISM World Championships of Magic is in Quebec City, Canada.
A historic accomplishment at the hands of Joan Caesar, founder of the Canadian Association of Magicians and Renee-Claude Auclair, founder of Club De Magic Du Quebec, Festival Du Magie and Canadian Association of Magicians President.
It's a proud moment for Canada and Canadian magicians.
#1 Virtual Magic: Our magic festival's second year of surprises
Timing is everything. Just one year before the pandemic, in 2019, we presented our first magic festival called Ontario Week of Wonder Magic Festival in Fergus, Ontario.
October 25 - 31st is recognized as National Magic Week, a tradition that began in 1967 by the Society of American Magicians.
The Township of Centre Wellington has many rare connections to the world of professional magic, and Elora is home to the Canadian Association of Magicians.
Our OWOW Magic Festival hopes to continue sharing and inspiring new generations of magicians. In 2019 we debuted our first magic festival Halloween livestream. It's hard to believe, but we were the first-ever live-streamed magic show on YouTube.
Just two months before the pandemic, our first festival had three parts:
Magic Festival (for everyone)
Magician Convention (for magicians)
Halloween Livestream (for the world)
Oh, how things changed in 2020. COVID made our second annual OWOW Magic Festival entirely digital.
It was filmed over two weeks in October and featured five pre-taped segments with five incredible Ontario magicians in five unique locations throughout Centre Wellington.
I’m proud to share this with you.
Watch: OWOW Magic Festival 2021 Halloween Special
The Halloween Livestream ends with a tribute to Harry Houdini by escape artist Scott Hammell who was suspended 80 feet upside down over the Elora Gorge bound in a straight-jacket and chains. Scott’s breath-taking escape was a stunning tribute to the backdrop of my community’s most cherished visuals.
One Last Thing
Thanks for following along and reading this far. This year already has an intense list of new projects: virtual magic shows, filming, collaborations and more.
I hope you'll follow along.
I'll see you online until we can be together without a chat button.
PS: A quick note about my social media. Last year I turned off all social media notifications and stepped almost entirely away from social media (except Twitter.) I can't keep up the output from projects and talk about my omelette. I don't know if this will change, so follow me on Twitter.