STATE COLLEGE — Dennie Huber stood in front of an audience of about 100 people Thursday and did what he does best — make people laugh.
The local balloon artist and magician made balloon animals and then performed a magic show for children at Schlow Centre Region Library.
It was one of the library’s summer events, which include arts and crafts every Tuesday and performances at 2:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays until the end of July. In August, the library will host movie parties in its community room.
All events are free to the public and geared toward urging youth to read.
“It’s a family program. It’s our way of engaging the community and making an event educational in the meantime,” children’s librarian Anita Ditz said.
“This might encourage them to pick up a magic book that can turn into other books, and enjoy reading.”
The summer events have been a library tradition for about 20 years, but something new is added to the program each year, Ditz said.
This summer includes a hands-on activity called “Legos in Action” for children entering fourth through sixth grades. Ditz said its objective is to stimulate minds to be creative and “learn basic building principles.” It will be offered Mondays and Tuesdays, beginning Monday, through August.
But Thursday afternoon was all about the laughs.
All Dylan Musser asked for was a balloon hat, but the 7-year-old got that and more during Huber’s act.
The interactive show allowed children like Dylan to take turns as Huber’s right-hand man with tricks.
When an ace of spades was pulled from a deck of cards, everybody saw the card, except Huber.
The card was put back into the pile and Huber did what he called a “Huber shuffle” by shuffling the cards vigorously in a paper bag.
He shook the bag, mixed around the cards and did a jig that got the children laughing even harder.
And then he pulled out the same ace of spades.
“I don’t know how he did it,” Dylan said in amazement.
Ditz said the goal of each event is to provide “quality entertainment” that keeps people from being bored.
“We hope they’ll never use the ‘B’ word,” Ditz said. “It’s the kind of thing that keeps the library connected with the community and generates excitement. We hope it keeps bringing them back.”
And, for families, it’s a nice way to get out of the house and learn new things when school’s out.
“We’re making it a priority to come here a lot this summer,” said Colleen Musser, Dylan’s mother. “It’s getting them out and learning in a fun way.”
Britney Milazzo can be reached at 231-4648. Follow her on Twitter @ M11azzo.