Warwick Beacon / Cranston Herald
Thursday, May 22, 2003

on Cerel has been clowning around for 25 years now and is still a bit surprised tat he has been able to make a living at it.

"I wanted to be a doctor when I was a kid, but my parents wanted me to be a magician - and you know how parents push," he said with mock sincerity.

Cerel said he has been lucky in his career but perseverance and a gift for self-promotion account for much of his success, as well as his ability to appeal to people of all ages with his wholesome, family-oriented clowning and magic.

"I appeal to kids, but I also know that it is the grown-ups that do the hiring, so I try to put something in for everyone," he said. "A lot of my act sometimes goes way over the heads of the kids, but the adults appreciate it. Sometimes people will come up to me and say, 'That was a great act for the kids, but I liked it, too.' Well, that's the point. I go for the whole audience."

Cerel has built his career around an intense appearance schedule that takes him to fairs and conventions all over the country, and a long list of companies that use Cerel at sales meetings and trade shows, not to mention schools where he combines magic and learning to promote reading and morals values from kindergarten to fifth grade.

But it is the places that consistently call Cerel back again that have made it possible to build a career.

"I have been performing at the Warwick Mall for 25 years," said Cerel. "Twenty-five years ago I was eating tuna out of a can but I never did anything but magic since I left college. So, you could say I'm an overnight success after all those years."

Cerel is a big fan of classic children's television shows like Captain Kangaroo, Rocky and Bullwinkle and even the nearly forgotten Pinky Lee from the 1950's.

"I am a big fan of Pinky Lee," he said. "I have his picture on my wall at home. I didn't see the original shows but I have watched a number of old kinescopes of his work. He was great."

Cerel said he was amazed to meet the legendary Jay Ward in person once. Ward was the producer of Rocky and Bullwinkle, and Cerel ran into him in his studio's gift shop.
"I was amazed that he looked so much like the caricature of himself used on his show," he said. "After I spoke with him for a while, he said 'I have got something for you,' and gave me a cel (an animation drawing) from the show of Bullwinkle as a magician. I have that hanging up as well."

Cerel was also lucky enough to strike up a lasting friendship with the late Henny Youngman, who did a "forewarned" for Cerel's book, How to Blow Up Animals A Beginners Guide to Fun With Balloons.

"Nowhere but in America can a man come from a poor family, and help that family by shining shoes and selling newspapers and look toward a dream - and finally that dream has come true, where he is one of the best loved men in the entire nation. But enough about me... I've known Lon Cerel for over 15 years. Lon does with one balloon what I do with a one-liner. Take Lon's balloon book - Please."

Lon lives in Johnston, having moved there from Warwick after he married Sandy (Boyer) Cerel, an actress and one-time teacher at the George Peters School in Cranston.

"We met while performing with the Kaleidoscope Theatre and we became friends," he said. "She retired from teaching and now is a full time actress. She understands the business!

Cerel modestly credits his success to being a "big fish" in the small pond of Rhode Island. In spite of his pre-med. education from Providence College, Cerel has never looked back and regretted his decision to go into show business.

"I found something to do that I enjoyed and I get paid to do it," he said. "Luck had a lot to do with it, but I always prepared myself for opportunities when they did come. I guess you could call me a general practitioner of magic."

© Beacon Communications