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Artist entertains, educates kids

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Donna Pruett, the Balloon Lady, creates a dinosaur from balloons Wednesday at Braswell Memorial Library.

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By AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The activity room at Braswell Memorial Library was filled to capacity Wednesday as the Balloon Lady brought her own unique high-energy form of Pop Art to Rocky Mount.

The Balloon Lady event was part of the Summer Reading Program at the library. The theme of this year’s program is “Building a Better World,” and Donna Pruett, a.k.a. “The Balloon Lady,” developed her program around that theme, crafting color balloon sculptures to represent different aspects of the world including sunshine, flowers, a fishing pole, a broom, a large octopus and a huge dinosaur.

Pruett also performed two magic tricks related to reading. In one trick, she showed children an old book filled with tiny words and no pictures.

“I know this book doesn’t look interesting, but I am the Balloon Lady and I love to read so my imagination makes me want to see what is inside,” Pruett said.

As she opened the book, flames appeared to dance across its pages, making the children gasp in awe. Pruett used this as an opportunity to elaborate on the old adage: “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

“We need to give books — and people — a chance,” Pruett said.

Twins Clara and Ruby Allsbrook, 7, said they enjoyed the performance. 

“I really liked this a lot. She did a lot of good tricks with the balloons,” Clara Allsbrook said.

Noah Martinez, 9, said he first saw the Balloon Lady on the Fourth of July when she performed in West Jefferson in the mountains of Western North Carolina. When Martinez, a student at Engelwood Elementary, saw that the Balloon Lady was performing in his hometown, he had to come.

“It is amazing how she can make the balloon sculptures so fast,” Martinez said.

Pruett now makes her home near Boone, but she originally hails from Australia. She said she majored in theatre arts in college and decided on a career as the Balloon Lady when she was a member of a mime troupe. 

“I saw someone perform an act with balloons, and I thought, ‘I can to that,’” Pruett said. “My mother was a little disappointed that I used my college degree to become a Balloon Lady, but I enjoy it and I get to make a living from my art. Not many people can say that.”

Pruett said she especially enjoys performing at public libraries, as she has for 20 years.

“I get to spread my message this way,” Pruett said. “My message is that we need to take care of each other and of the world.”

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