When Carolyn Parsley attended magic class at the Central Orange Senior Center on Thursday, she took notes on her skills to show them to her grandchildren later.
“(The tricks) floored me,” said Carolyn Parsley, an attendee. “I showed one to my grandchildren.”
Magician Lee Werley taught seniors the tricks of the magical trade. His tricks ranged from simple sleight of hand feats to more difficult card counting.
Werley started out as a children’s magician and clown before he began teaching tricks. A 1974 UNC graduate, Werley works in public health, but decided to go into the clown business to bring happiness to people’s lives.
“I come from a clown family,” he said.
Most of the attendees wanted to learn magic tricks to share with their grandchildren. Participants took notes throughout the class and Werley provided one-on-one assistance to ensure the tricks were mastered.
Werley cracked jokes throughout the class.
“If you put an envelope on the table, is it still stationery?” he asked.
One memorable trick involved creating secret pockets in paper bags. Werley took two separate pieces of string and placed them in the secret pocket of the bag, which the audience could not see.
“(The strings) come out tied,” Werley deadpanned as he pulled the Tide Detergent logo from the bag, cracking another joke to the audience.
Janet Dumont, another attendee, said she was interested in magic to brighten the lives of other senior citizens.
“We go and see the elderly with Project EngAGE,” Dumont said. “Sometimes they need something to put a smile on their face.”
Project EngAGE is a 13-week senior leadership program whose goal is to make Orange County an excellent place to age.
As the class wrapped up, Werley encouraged the attendees to practice their tricks in front of a mirror before performing in front of family and friends.
“Magic is a vanishing art,” Werley joked. “It’s tricky business.”
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