Being Nick

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Nick, of course, is the world famous mascot of Puppets Up!  Well, at least he’s famous around here.  For the past seven years Nick has appeared at hundreds of events and gatherings throughout the Ottawa Valley, merrily promoting the Puppets Up! annual festival which takes place in August in downtown Almonte.  And for all those appearances, some child-at-heart volunteer has donned the colorful costume and oversized head and taken on the persona of lovable huggable Nick.

The one guy who has probably done it the most is Fraser Scantlebury.  Yes, this mild-mannered corporate consultant who, in the real world, deals with serious management executives, or is fund raising for the United Way Lanark County, has for years escaped into the magically silly world of Nick, skipping and dancing, jiggling and wiggling and hi-fiving and hugging his way through a crowd of happy kids!  How can this be possible?  Can one person be so divided in character?  Which is the real Fraser?

“Good question”, says Fraser, laughing, ““I’d like to say the “Nick” Fraser is the real one, because he keeps me young – letting me be a kid again, to have a lot of fun.  After being Nick, my face is sore from smiling so much at the kids, and adults, who light up when they see him.  Nick’s just this big cartoon character who never gets the chance to talk, but always has a smile on his face, expressing himself with his whole body and actions.  Nick’s actually a giant hand-puppet, that I get to climb inside.  Puppets Up, get it?  But everyone sees him as a happy-faced teddy bear kinda guy.  I love being able to be that guy once in a while – it makes me smile!”

Nick was made by professional puppeteer, puppet-maker and artistic director of Puppets Up!, Noreen Young.  “He’s like part of my family”, says Noreen.  “He lives at my house.  Often, wherever I go, he goes.  It’s not unusual to see him sitting in the back seat of my car as I transport him to his next gig.  He’s even helped me make presentations to the town council.  Quite a guy! And easy to have around…low maintenance.”

If you think “being Nick” is something you’d like to try, the folks at Puppets Up! are looking for a few good volunteers.  Contact Nick’s manager, David Veniot, for more information at 613-461-0007 or davidveniot@rogers.com