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Puppeteer brings message of reduce, reuse, recycle, rethink to Jefferson library program
Atlanta resident Lee Bryan, known as “That Puppet Guy,” performs Pinocchio on Thursday as part of the Jefferson Public Library summer program at the Jefferson Civic Center. Bryan’s puppets are made from recycled materials and other found objects. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

JEFFERSON — What do you get when you mix several wicker baskets and a couple sets of large, wooden salad spoons and forks?

Why, Pinocchio of course!

As a part of his act Thursday, master puppeteer Lee Bryan incorporated a host of puppets that he created from "found" materials.

"Found item puppetry is about being creative. Everyone knows the three R’s — reduce, reuse, recycle — but there’s a fourth one: rethink. It’s all about rethinking of different ways to use the things you find," Bryan said. "Everything in my act was either something that I found after someone else had thrown it out, or it was purchased at the Goodwill."

Bryan’s performance Thursday was one of the many summer programs arranged by the Jefferson Public Library. So far there have been performances by a jazz group and juggler.

"At the first performance, we had around 140 people in the audience," said Amy Carlan, Jefferson librarian. "At the next event, we had around 270 people. The crowd just keeps growing."

Thursday’s performance was no
exception. Several hundred children and adults gathered at the civic center to enjoy Bryan’s puppet act.

"My favorite part was when he turned that boy into a puppet," said Ronald Ortega, a 7-year-old Braselton resident.

"And when Pinocchio got swallowed by the big fish and (Bryan) squirted us with water so we could feel like we were on the ocean."

Bryan, who has been a puppeteer for 14 years, says that his "green" performance was tailored to his Jefferson audience.

"The library’s summer program theme is ‘be creative’ and using found items to create other things is all about creativity," Bryan said.

In addition to encouraging attendees to be creative, Bryan also snuck in life lessons about the importance of telling the truth, going to school and listening to parents.

"This was really great. The kids had so much fun, and they didn’t even notice that they were learning," said Rosaline Ortega, who was with her son, Ronald. "Everyone’s money is tight these days, so it’s nice to have free things like this to do and get the kids out of the house."

The next program that the library has scheduled is set for June 18, which will feature storyteller Chetter Galloway.

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