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Laughs Help Lighten the Load for Military Families

Magician Peter Vuono and a young volunteer discuss a trick to perform at the Thanks to Yanks Magic Show in late January.

Few can imagine the stress on a family when a parent is deployed overseas, but outreach efforts such as those by Milford resident Mike Shain can help lighten the burden. Shain, who began the Thanks To Yanks annual dinner five years ago, uses the remaining donated funds to further help the families of local servicemen and women. This year, as in the past two, some of those remaining funds sponsored the Thanks to Yanks Magic Show for the children of service families and local residents.

On January 30, Stacy Middle School was transformed into a Thanks to Yanks bonanza. The theme started as soon as those attending the program entered the school, where a large table was set up gathering donations to be given to Operation American Soldier, and Daisy troop 11276 was selling Girl Scout cookies to be sent overseas.

By the end of the show more than 25 bags of donations had been collected and were heading to a drop center where they would be packed up and shipped out.

Heading into the auditorium, everyone was greeted with water and a snack donated by Hannaford's Market.

The auditorium, which had been donated by the Milford Public Schools for the event, was quickly filling with parents, grandparents, and most importantly the kids for whom the event was hosted. DJ Ron Auger was on stage entertaining the crowd as they gathered.

The festivities then officially began with Shain introducing himself, and acknowledging the armed forces, by saying "this is a day of tribute, respect, and thanks." Four members of the Blackstone Young Marines presenting the flags took stage and Milford High School student Brittany Hill sang the Star Spangled Banner.

Then magician Peter Vuono took center stage. With tricks that amused the children and humor that brought chuckles from he adults in the crowd, Vuono brought children to the stage to help with a number of his tricks, often asking the kids to use the magical phrase "Hocus-Pocus-Fish-Bones-Choke-Us."

Vuono introduced the audience to his slinky raccoon Rocky, who not only could pick your card from the deck, but was able to be cut in half and reassembled right in front of everybody's eyes. Even a few of the young marines were impressed when Vuono was able to untie and retie his hands together in a matter of seconds after one of the soldier's had tied them together himself.

Thanks to Yanks is a non-political group, which strives to "revere, respect, and remember servicemen and women and their families," according to Shain. In a phone interview before the show, he explained that this magic show was possible because of the funds remaining after the Thanks To Yanks dinner held each September 11th. "All the funding comes from local businesses, such as Charles River Bank, which was a large contributor this year, and then we make sure that all the money in some way is used for military families," he said. "Then the next year we start again with nothing and look for donors."

More information about "Thanks to Yanks" can be found at their website

Magician Peter Vuono and a young volunteer discuss


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