The first thing I noticed about
Lon Cerel was his tie. Covered with brightly colored,
cartoonish balloons, it stood out from his otherwise nondescript
clothing. After talking with the local magician, balloon-maker,
entertainer, and comedian, I realized that it wasn't only
his tie that was one-of-a-kind - Lon is quite an interesting
Armed with magic tricks, a witty sense of humor, and a
lively imagination, this long time East Side party icon
continues to amaze residents all over the state. And now
he's embarking on one of his most difficult challenges
of his illustrious career: trying to convince kids that
reading is better for you than TV and video games.
Appropriately, this past month was National Reading Month,
which gave Cerel the chance to speak out as a proponent
of kids' reading programs, while, of course, doing some
razzle dazzle of his own. Using magic as a vehicle to
teach others to use their imaginations, Cerel is working
to encourage children to open a book rather than simply
switching on the television.
He instituted a program, "The
Magic of Reading," to reinforce the benefits
of reading and library use both for school and recreational
purposes. His program, which uses the facade of a magic
show to promote reading, also deals with issues such as
respect for others, consequences, self-esteem, and cooperation.
Co-developed by Cerel's wife, a retired teacher, "The
Magic of Reading" program is currently in its
third full year. "Books give you wings," Cerel
explains. "You can meet people and go places that
are only in your imagination."
Cerel doesn't only encourage reading, he has also authored
a book as well. The book, entitled: How
To Blow Up Animals: A Beginner's Guide to Fun with Balloons,
pretty much says it all. Cerel holds the title of "World's
Fastest Balloon Animal Artist" - he can create a
French poodle out of a balloon in an incredible 2.98 seconds!
This highly-illustrated book combines colorful, instructive
pictures with Cerel's trademark humor to provide readers
with step-by-step instructions on how to create countless
animals, hats, and various other creatures with balloons.
Cerel started performing his magic tricks at the age of
six. By nine, he was getting paid for his talents, though
he admits that he now charges a little more than he did
back then. The magician is now celebrating his 25th anniversary
of entertaining people of all ages, holding fast to his
motto: "You have to grow old, but you don't have
to grow up."
Initially entering college with the desire to become a
doctor, Cerel changed his major to psychology after two
years. After graduating from Providence College in 1978,
he decided to follow his passion for magic and entertaining.
He hasn't looked back since.
Cerel gears his act towards specific audiences, performing
for both the young and the young-at-heart. In a forty-eight
hour period, Lon literally entertained people of all ages,
performing for nursery-schoolers at Mount Hope Day Care
here on the East Side, and then moving right on to the
Jewish Community center where he amazed and amused senior
citizens. He incorporates more schtick and politically-charged
comedy in his adult performances, while using more visual
magic and illusion to entertain his younger audiences.
All of his shows, though combine his own quirky brand
of humor and energy, with plenty of audience participation.
Aside from being multi-generational, his acts also bridge
language barriers as well, as Cerel can perform his act
in several languages, even offering silent shows for the
For three consecutive years, Lon Cerel has been voted
"Rhode Island's Best Family Entertainer" by
the readers of The Rhode Island Parents' Paper, and has
entertained audiences at such varied places as Harvard
University, Nickelodeon Television and numerous fairs
and festivals throughout the Northeast - as well as hundred
of elementary schools, libraries and campgrounds across
New England. He performs at trade shows, corporate events,
and, of course, birthday parties. If he is successful
at producing a new generation of book lovers, they'll
be able to read all about him for years to come.