Over 1200 adults and children packed the Campbell Hall at the Pasadena Fairgrounds, Thursday, for the presentation of the city's library's summer reading program prizes.
A drawing was held for numerous prizes, including a Nintendo 64 computer game system and a new BMX bicycle.
Carranza Puppets highlighted the evening with a marionette puppet presentation of "Pinocchio."
David and Carol Carranza are no strangers to the Pasadena area as they have performed for children in Pasadena's public library and elementary schools on numerous occasions. This "live theatre" presentation is often used for birthday parties, malls, and other special events.
Earlier this year, the Carranzas performed their smaller show, "The Three Little Pigs," at Pasadena's public library during "Story Time" for children. Kirsten Johnson is the children's librarian.
"Children interact with puppets in a unique way," Johnson said, "To them it's live theater and I don't think children get enough of that. I love the way the Carranzas focus on fairy tales. It's good 'pretend' for the children."
The Carranzas began puppetry as a hobby over twenty years ago.
"I was a secretary for the lunar space project at NASA," Carol Carranza said. "David worked for the railroad. We're both artistically inclined, so we were looking for something to do as a hobby."
The same individual introduced both Carranzas to puppetry while they were growing up in separate cities.
"There was a man from a little town in Michigan who came to Texas each year doing puppet shows," David Carranza said. "I saw him in my hometown , Corpus Christi, and Carol saw him here in Houston."
As they began to perform locally, they heard of a puppeteer coming to do a show in Pasadena.
"We decided to come see the presentation, when lo and behold, it was Lewis Parsons, the man from Michigan," David said. "We spoke with him after the presentation and told him how he had influenced us to take up puppetry. He encouraged us to continue on."
"Not long after that, Mr. Parsons developed heart trouble," Carol said, "He had bypass surgery but didn't survive. One of the last things he said was a word of encouragement for us to keep doing puppetry. Not long after that, I quit my job and started doing more shows.
As the demand for shows increased, so did the work to do a show increased.
"David left his job with one railroad about 12 years ago," Carol said. "Now our hobby is our work, and boy do we enjoy it."
Johnson has the Carranza Puppets perform each year for the library children. Johnson also grew up as a neighbor to Lewis Parsons in Pentwater, Mich.
"Mr. Parsons would try his shows on the neighborhood children first," Johnson said. "I grew up watching and helping with Parsons' Puppet Palace."
It is a small world after all. But according to the Carranzas, this world got a little smaller on the Gulf Freeway one day.
"We had just bought a new little red Toyota pickup and were headed for a puppetry festival in Iowa," Carol said, "All of a sudden, right in the middle of the Gulf Freeway, our truck came to a screeching halt all by itself. The tarp rope had come loose and wrapped around the emergency brake cable and locked the rear brakes.
"We called for a tow. The tow truck operator came and got us and took us to a Toyota place. He asked where we were headed. We told him about the puppet festival. He said, 'Really? I know a puppeteer. I used to go around with him and help set up his show. His name was Lewis Parsons."
"We couldn't believe it," Carol said. "Mr. Parsons touched a lot of lives. This man (the driver) told us he was a juvenile delinquent, probably headed for a life of crime. 'If it hadn't been for Mr. Parsons,' he said. 'I would probably be either dead now or in jail somewhere.' When we went to pay him he wouldn't charge us. You're puppeteers-you don't - you don't owe me anything."
Carranza Puppets are available for birthday parties, libraries, day care centers, elementary schools, and wherever children congregate.
"We even perform for department stores and malls," David said. "We love to entertain the children."
Carranza Puppets, a Texas Touring Artist, brings children's literature to life. The play has original, fully orchestrated music is in keeping with the literary integrity of this "Arabian Nights" story.
Present this highly regarded program for your children in your school or theater! It holds their attention and makes literature memorable. The literature connections of this program inspires reading in your children that can last a lifetime!