Special guest helps Scouts

(Submitted photo)

(Submitted photo)

It’s not everyday a celebrity like Ronn Lucas comes to town, but when he does he brings a cast of characters that have entertained presidents, royalty and television audiences around the globe.

A world-renowned ventriloquist, Lucas will perform at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 17, in a show that will help Niles Boy Scout Troop 579 raise the funds necessary to visit Philmont Scout Ranch in northern New Mexico. Lucas will be bringing his one-of-a-kind family friendly show straight from a Royal Caribbean Cruise performance to the Hope Community Church at 2390 Lake St. in Niles.

Lucas was more than happy to waive his usual $10,000 (and up) per show performance fee, to give something back to an organization like the Boy Scouts of America. A former Scout himself, Lucas credits some of his success to his time in the organization.

“Boy Scouts taught me self reliance, gave me a certain amount of confidence to perform in front of an audience,” Lucas said.

James Ellis, district chairman for Algonquian District, Boy Scouts of America Lasalle Council, had met Lucas in Las Vegas when he was the director of operations at the International Scouting Museum and Lucas was on the board of trustees.  The two became fast friends and visited Philmont together on more than one occasion, which is how Ellis was able to get Lucas for this performance.

Lucas began his storied career in ventriloquism when he was only 7 years old. As a child of parents who were involved in civil service and the military, he moved around a lot, and ventriloquism became an easy way for him to make friends.

When he was around 8 years old, his parents gave him a book and record on ventriloquism and the future star was born. While he admits he dropped his hobby early in high school, in his later school years he entered, and won, his high school talent show.

He hasn’t looked back since.

From high school talent show to “best ventriloquist in the world,” the man and his puppets have come a long way, to performing in front of Presidents Ronald Reagan Bill Clinton and George Bush, British royalty Queen Elizabeth, and starring on national TV programs including “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “L.A. Law” and “America’s Funniest Home Video.”

Lucas said his show is a mix of scripted parts and improv.

The ventriloquist said he really likes to play off everyone and his own unique sense of humor and remind his audience, “we all have an inner child that needs to be appreciated once in a while.”

“Comedy, good entertainment and discovery can all be child-like without being childish,” he said.

At a show in Utah, Lucas joked to the more than 450 people in attendance, “there must be at least eight families here, right?”

Lucas says he always closes he show with a tribute to his Grand-dad where he pulls the sock from his own foot and makes a puppet for his audience.  His favorite response to this part of his act was from Queen Elizabeth herself, when she asked him, after his show, if he “had more talking laundry at home.”

Tickets for the show are $15 each, and a family pack of 5 tickets is $65, all proceeds will help send approximately a dozen Boy Scouts from St. Mary’s Catholic Church Troop 579 to the ranch, for 12 days of hiking the nearly 200,000 acres, and an experience, according to Ellis, the scouts will never forget.

None of the boys who are going on this trip have ever been before, but they are eagerly anticipating the many planned activities along the course — panning for gold, rock climbing, Dutch oven cooking and shooting rifles, to name a few.

Ellis says the goal for the boys is to realize that they can do it — they can hike for 12 days. Most, as Ellis said he did when he was a boy, leave knowing, “I’m tougher than I think I am!”

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