• Kierra Guerra helped magician Professor Whizzpop during his magic show at the Murphy Library on Friday.

SCOUTING AROUND: Magician impresses kids, local man makes mark in Coast Guard

   Professor Whizzpop visited all the libraries in the Nantahala Regional Library system Friday, entertaining even the most skeptical children with his summer reading-based magic show.
   “I liked it when he walked through that metal,” said 8-year-old Grayson Hall, who watched the show in Murphy. “It was just cool. I don’t know how he did it.”
   Bridget Wilson, the youth services librarian, said the tricks were so tricky it kept the older kids’ attention as much as the younger kids’. Plus, he was very good at engaging the kids with his show full of “mishaps.”
   Professor Whizzpop, whose real name is Tom Hughes, is a magician from Asheville who built his show around several books, including If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, Oh Say Can You Seed? and the Harry Potter series. The show was the first special event for the libraries’ summer programs for kids.
   “I love how he incorporated all the books into the show because to me it was very seamless,” Wilson said.
   For The Three Little Pigs, he told his version of the story with sheets of paper featuring each character on one side. He decided to make the wolf disappear, but kept turning the paper around instead of flipping it. When he finally flipped the paper and showed the wolf had disappeared, the children soon found the wolf had reappeared on the back of the magician’s shirt.
   “He was good because he was funny,” said Addie Berry, a 5 year-old who also watched the show at Murphy Public Library. Her favorite part was when he turned a balloon into a phone cover.
   Wilson said she hopes to be able to bring him back to the libraries. Both Andrews’ and Murphy’s performances were packed Friday, with 21 kids at the Andrews show and 67 kids in Murphy.
   Special events for kids will continue throughout the summer at both the Andrews and Murphy branches of the library. Children ages 5 and older will get to tie-dye at 10 a.m. Friday, July 21, in Andrews, while all children will get to paint rocks at 10 a.m. Friday, July 28, in Murphy.
   Both libraries also will have Lego Club meetings this summer. The next Lego Club at Andrews is at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 9, while Murphy has its next meeting at 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18.
   Over the summer, the libraries will have weekly story times for both preschool and school-age children. Murphy has preschool story time at 10:30 a.m., plus a school-age (up to age 12) story time event at 11 a.m. Mondays. On Wednesdays, Andrews hosts school-age events at 11 a.m. and preschool story time at 10:30 a.m. This summer’s reading theme is “Build a Better World.”

Magazine features Figueroa
   Why is the Coast Guard in Kentucky? That’s what Hometown magazine wanted to know, and Seaman Apprentice Adam Figueroa was featured in the free publication’s story.
   Figueroa grew up in Cherokee County and graduated from Hiwassee Dam High School in 2016. He has been in the Coast Guard since October. After completing boot camp in Cape May, N.J., he was sent to Hickman, Ky., to work at a harbor on the Mississippi River.
   “I’m proud of him, couldn’t be any prouder,” said his father, Ed Figueroa. “I’ve been a public servant all my life. For him to serve our country, I can’t describe it in words.”
   He and his wife, Sandy, were surprised when copies of the June/July issue of the magazine with their son on the cover arrived at their house.
   “I’m honored by it. He’s my only son,” the proud father said.
   Figueroa is the youngest of 19 men stationed in Hickman. His father said it’s likely he was chosen to represent the men because he’s well-liked and has impressed his superiors in the short amount of time he’s been stationed there. He also loves the Coast Guard, and his enthusiasm has made friends consider joining, too.
   “He said it was the best choice he ever made,” Ed Figueroa said.
   He also credits the education his son received in Cherokee County for his success.
   “The teachers he had at Ranger and Hiwassee Dam, and the principals, were exceptional,” Ed Figueroa added.
   The story featuring Adam Figueroa, “What’s the Coast Guard doing in Kentucky?” is available to read on hometownkentenn.com. Figueroa also can be seen in the Facebook profile photo for Hometown magazine.
   Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.