Magician Greg McMahan may have made a handkerchief disappear, transformed a ball into a cube and made an inanimate raccoon jump through a "ring of fire," but the real magic came from the enjoyment seen in children's faces at the Wizard of Odd magic show April 7.

The show, held at Jacobs Park on Fort McPherson, featured Family entertainment specialist McMahan, who said his act can best be described as a clown performing magic.

"It's a goofy magic show. There's puppetry, clowning and magic," said McMahan, who performs under the stage name Mr. Greggy. "It's just me being silly."

Silliness came in all aspects of the show, from multiple malfunctioning magic wands and McMahan wearing an outfit including a tie-dyed shirt straight out of the 60s and an over-the-top black top hat, to a jig McMahan performed when saying the magic words "Mr. Greggy, Mr. Greggy, Mr. Greggy."

The only things rivaling the silliness for pure pleasure were the smiles and laughter coming from the children watching the event.

Besides keeping the children's attention with an assortment of tricks and puppetry with the help of his "pet raccoon" Rocky, McMahan also kept the kids engaged by having them take part in the event.

After going through three defective magic wands, McMahan asked the children to help him perform his tricks by using their fingers as magic wands and saying "magic words" before tricks.

"I like them to see that they are causing the fun," McMahan said. "I make it interactive."

In addition to giving the kids a sense of control, the show also provided a diversion from the tough life military children sometimes face.

Kathy Epps, Family Advocacy Program educator, said McMahan brought laughs to a lot of kids who desperately need it.

With many military children going through tough times because of a parent's deployment to either Afghanistan or Iraq, Epps said it is important to give these kids opportunities for relief from "what they go through."

For Sarah Baker's two sons, William, 19 months, and Nathan, 4, relief was exactly what the day provided.

Sarah's husband, and the boys' father, Maj. Chris Baker, a transportation officer with Third Army/U.S. Army Central G-4, is deployed to Iraq.

"It was pretty good," she said of the show. "I think it is good for kids to be outside and have these activities."

Nathan said he enjoyed the show, especially when Rocky jumped through the fire hoop.

Although he said he liked magic and felt happy to be able to lend a hand in performing tricks, he doesn't want to learn how to do magic himself.

Still, McMahan said some kids may be inspired by his show, and encourages parents to help foster that growth should an interest be exhibited.

He said good places to start would be the Internet or through a local library's magic section.

McMahan, who has been performing for 35 years, said magic has provided countless blessings in his life.

"Self-esteem, public speaking, confidence in front of crowds, hand-eye coordination, camaraderie, patience and persistence (are all skills learned from magic)," McMahan said.

Additionally, McMahan said it can lead to strong friendships with other magicians.

"Magic, by nature, is secret, so many magicians open clubs where they can talk openly about it," he said.

While the tricks of his trade may be secret, one thing McMahan left out in the open was his appreciation for being able to perform for military children. McMahan, whose brother, Chris, is a commander in the Navy Reserves, said he would like to do more shows for military children in the future.

It is a definite possibility, as Epps said McMahan was invited to perform because of positive responses he received from a previous performance on Fort McPherson, adding he also received positive reviews for his April 7 show.

"Humor, that's what's missing in a lot of kids' lives," Epps said. "To be able to sit there, laugh and forget about it (the absence of a parent) is what they (the kids) needed."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16