WEARING A gray blazer and black T-shirt, Eric Cicora approached two young women in the lobby of the Olive Garden restaurant in east Columbia. "I'm the Olive Garden's house magician," he said. "Would you like to see some magic?"
For the next few minutes, magician Cicora used a deck of cards to entertain sisters Rebecca and Danielle Spare as they waited for their table in the restaurant.
"I like to use objects that people are used to like cards or coins and freak them out or amaze them," Cicora said.
Cicora, 17, a senior at River Hill High School, got his first magic kit at age 9. "My dad bought me a kit, and I started out doing a couple of shows for my family," he said. "Then I bought a book, Mark Wilson's Complete Course of Magic, and started getting into sleight-of-hand magic. It just kind of took off from there."
Last year, Cicora was named Stage Magician of the Year by the Columbia Society of Young Magicians. He also won first prize in the junior stage competition at Tannen's Magic Camp in New York. This summer, Cicora won the Tommy Ivey scholarship for young magicians. He plans to use the scholarship to attend the Legends of Magic convention next month in Las Vegas.
"I try to attend as many conventions as I can," Cicora said. "It's the best way to learn from other magicians."
Cicora said sleight-of-hand or close-up magic is his specialty. Sleight-of-hand magic requires hours of practice to perfect not only the technique, but also the chatter that helps set up each trick.
Being a magician has helped Cicora earn money and develop other skills, too. "I feel I'm good at public speaking because of performing," he said. "It also helped me develop business skills. I had to create my own sales pitch, develop a portfolio and market myself to get the job at Olive Garden."
Despite hours spent practicing and performing, Cicora manages to maintain a 3.6 grade point average and act in school plays. He is a member of the National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America and Students Helping Other People at River Hill High School.
Although he has thought of a career in magic, Cicora plans to pursue a degree in marketing or criminal justice. "If I wanted to support a family doing magic it would be incredibly difficult. You have to travel a lot," he said.
For the near future, he hopes to land more work performing at private parties.
Cicora will perform Nov. 4 at the Foreign-born Information and Referral Network's International Cabaret, to be held at the Hilton Hotel in Columbia.
Swansfield Elementary School's PTA will hold its fall festival from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the school, 5610 Cedar Lane.
The festival will include crafts, games, food and entertainment. Admission is free, but tickets must be purchased to play games and enter raffles.
"It will be fun for the whole family," said Jean Boone, first vice president of the PTA.
Also Saturday, the Harper's Choice Community Association will hold its Applefest from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the village center.
Blue Sky Puppet Theater will perform The Barker of Seville at 11:30 a.m. on the square at the center. Nellybelle the Clown will be there to paint faces.
Children and their families can make crafts and enjoy refreshments at this event. Bring old clothes to make a scarecrow.
Chorus to perform
The Columbia Pro Cantare chorus will begin its 25th season Oct. 20, performing Mendelssohn's Elijah at Jim Rouse Theatre for the Performing Arts at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia. The concert will begin at 8 p.m.
West Columbia singers in the chorus are Susan Balco, Erica Burlas, Christa Chaudoin, Chris DeVoe, Stephen Fulton, Carol Galbraith, Cheryl Garnes, Kristina Gilbertson, Steve Greif, Barbara Kraus, Kim Lichtenberg, Tom Lorsung, Bob Marcus, Betsy Middleton, Deloise Wilkie and Richard Roca.
Tickets cost from $20 to $25.
The Dorsey Search Women's Foundation will sponsor a children's items consignment sale from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Dunloggin Middle School, 9129 Northfield Road.
Buyers can expect good deals on children's and maternity clothes, toys, books, baby equipment and juvenile furniture at the biannual event.
Half the proceeds from the sale will be donated to charity.