The Hamburg Strand was the place to be, at least for the younger set, on Saturday, April 15. The historic single-screen theatre hosted an Easter event that afternoon featuring magic, classic cinema and the Easter Bunny himself.
Upbeat pop tunes greeted parents pushing strollers and grandparents toting popcorn and accompanying children to their seats in the theater. On stage, Richard “Magic Rich” Gerber was set up for his portion of the show.
Gerber, who performs regularly at the Hamburg-er Festival each fall, grew up in Reading and lives in Muhlenburg. He has been professionally performing for almost three decades, but explained he got his first taste of magic tricks at age 10.
Gerber said he loves the look on children’s faces as he does a magic trick.
“It brings people back to a sense of wonder,” he says, “like when they were kids. Adults are too jaded.”
During his 30-minute show on April 15, Gerber infused his performance with light comedy. He performed card tricks with an oversize deck and pulled young assistants on stage throughout.
One young man became Gerber’s superhero sidekick and learned how to do a trick involving changing a handkerchief into an egg, which was then cracked into a cup. A beaming young girl became a living rabbit in the show, and a third youngster fought the giggles as he helped Gerber decorate the stage with bright Easter colors, despite collapsing wands and exploding paint cans.
As his audience “oohed” and “aahed,” Gerber laughed, stating, “I know how it’s done, and I even fool myself sometimes.”
The magician wrapped up his show to applause, then the theatre darkened and families settled in their seats to watch “Here Comes Peter Cottontail.”
The 1971 holiday classic features stop-motion animation and the voice of Danny Kaye. Young children were transfixed by the tale, which followed Peter as he used a time machine to defeat the evil, anti-Easter Irontail.
As the credits rolled, Stephanie Adam, Strand coordinator, invited everyone to meet the Easter Bunny in the theater’s side room.
Adults snapped pictures with their phones as children posed with the friendly rabbit. Among the crowd were Linda and Vreeland Wood, Lenhartsville residents who attended the festivities with their 7-year-old grandson, Ethan Kalnas.
“He had a great time and laughed a lot,” Linda Wood said. “Another great event at the Hamburg Strand, an awesome place for local, affordable entertainment and movies.”
“Our event was a success,” said Bethany Sholl, theater manager. “I hope this might become a yearly Easter tradition for families in addition to egg hunts.”
“Cabela’s asked us to partner with them with their egg hunt and so we thought it would make a great day event to combine the hunt with the magician and an Easter movie,” Adam said.
“Next year we talked about doing the Easter event a week or so before Easter so that we weren’t competing with other Easter activities in the community.”
For information on Magic Rich Gerber, call 610-463-7917. To learn what’s showing at the Strand or learn about other special events planned at the theater, visit hamburgstrand.org.