WAYNE, NJ – One of New Jersey’s most prolific children’s entertainers, Bob “Magic Bob” Richey of Party Magic Entertainment was recently recognized as one of the top online teachers of the art and skill of magic.
Many in Wayne may recognize Magic Bob and his incredible balloon animals, as he was a regular weekly performer at the three Wendy's in Wayne as well as at Mother's Ale House. Back in the day, Magic Bob perfected his skills performing weekly back when Reloaderz was Fuddruckers.
Eleven months ago, Magic Bob’s thirty-year career as a children’s magician and balloon animal artist hit a dead end when Gov. Murphy’s executive order put a halt to all social gatherings in mid-March of 2020. What had once been a steady career for the talented performer, and the dozen performers he had working for him, stopped suddenly.
Magic Bob and every other performer in New Jersey faced a dark future. All income had been virtually taken away and the choice was give-up or forge ahead somehow.
“I had to adjust to the pandemic, just like everyone else,” said Magic Bob, a self-described entrepreneur.
He was forced to take stock of the world around him and figure out where his talents would still work.
“Back then, this was all brand new and everyone was scrambling to find something to keep children engaged and excited in a virtual setting,” he explained. “I knew I could fill that void by shifting my energy to fit this new reality.”
Part of his adjustment was a move to online performances, but the real change came when he put together a program to help schools, camps and parents provide a way for children to have fun and improve socially at the same time. Magic Bob started the Party Magic Academy and became an online magic instructor with a program that used magic to subtly reinforce self-esteem and social skills.
“That decision ended up saving me, business-wise, and mentally too,” he admitted. “It allowed me to pivot to something that was not only constructive but something fun too.”
He began with Zoom Room Crashes, where a teacher would hire him to perform during a day of online learning. “It would be a quick 20-to-30-minute performance that was part magic show, part magic workshop and all fun,” he said.
From there, he began providing weeks-long magic courses that taught the skills of magic while subtly reinforcing social skills and self-esteem.
“We reinforce social skills by teaching the kids how to properly perform magic,” explained Magic Bob. “So, they learn how to talk to people, how to look them in the eye, how to have sequential thinking; you have to think in a certain order to present a trick properly. You have to be creative in the way you present your tricks and create your performances and be enthusiastic, all of which are traits of a true magician.”
“All the kids and the parents loved him,” said Karen Marron, who hired Magic Bob for the Wayne Education Foundation virtual summer camp last year.
“The quality of his interactions with the children, his knowledge and the magic he taught was fantastic,” Marron added. “It was great to offer something fun and exciting for the children when we were just struggling to find something to keep kids engaged in a virtual sense.”
If you haven’t met Magic Bob, then you could never realize how positive and engaging he is. There are plenty of reasons why he has been so successful, and his both his sense of humor and his professionalism are at the top of that list.
His hard work and entrepreneurship paid off recently when he was awarded the Golden Wand of Excellence award during a virtual (of course) Discover Magic Conference, which is usually held in Las Vegas.
“The Golden Wand of Excellence is given out to a magic teacher that exemplifies the core of our program,” said Michael Mario, founder of Discover Magic. “This past year has stretched all of us, and Bob has been one of the key players in helping us transition to a fully engaging program online that still exceeds expectations.”
“It’s great to be recognized like this,” said Magic Bob. “But the best part of all is that ,even though the world has changed, I can continue to do what I was born to do, and that’s make kids happy. I absolutely love what I do and have zero regrets about any part of my life.”
If the majority of us could say the same thing, it would be a much better world.
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