Puppet Wagon rolls on into summer
It's a sunny afternoon in one of Woodbury's dozens of neighborhood parks.. Maybe you and your kids are playing on the playground or having a picnic. The next thing you know, you see a wooden house rolling into the parking lot. The structure, decorated with Sesame Street characters, is home to some summertime friends. This is the Puppet Wagon.
The Woodbury Parks and Recreation Department-sponsored Puppet Wagon has been putting on puppet shows in community parks for the past 27 years.
"It is different entertainment (for kids)," said Ann Ringgold, a parks and recreation specialist who helps coordinate the Puppet Wagon schedule. "It's a world of make believe that is silly entertainment that (the children) are a part of versus watching television or a movie."
The Puppet Wagon is popular among young families in and around Woodbury.
The puppet wagon visits 23 parks for 8 weeks during the summer. Last year, a total of 6,700 children took in a performance.
"It's just a fun little activity," said Amber Brown, who makes a point to take her children to more than a few performances each summer. "We like to try out different parks."
The Puppet Wagon puts on a different show each week thanks to the creativity of its three puppeteers -- Isabella Odin, Maria Lassegard and Elizabeth Cooper.
Staple of summer
Since the Puppet Wagon has been running for 27 years, it's not a surprise that a few puppets have had to be sent to the puppet retirement home over the years.
Ringgold said she purchases the puppets online from a company in California or from Creative Kids Stuff.
Ringgold said the annual budget for the Puppet Wagon is $4,000.
Additionally, the wagon itself needs to be maintained and occasionally repaired.
There have been discussions over replacing or updating the Puppet Wagon, but that is dependent on the future budget, she said.
The week before its debut this summer, on June 10, the Puppet Wagon had a bit of a mishap when it was rear ended while it was driving east on Bailey Road.
The accident caused the Puppet Wagon to be out of commission for the first week of performances, from June 14-17, while a few minor repairs were needed, but the accident didn't stop the puppeteers from putting on a show.
"The show must go on," Ringgold said.