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The Villages

Nyack Based ‘Punk Rock Peter Pan Philosopher of Magic’ Takes His Biggest Stage Yet (and More Local Stories)

This week in the Villages we look at the evolution of Nyack’s most famous and inspirational maker. Plus, other Nyack and Rockland-centric stories, links, notes, and updates.

Nyack’s own Mario the Maker Magician performed on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Thursday, Dec. 21, at the tail end of an off-Broadway run at the SoHo Playhouse. (Photo by Todd Owyoung / NBC)

Welcome back to the Villages! Sorry for the brief hiatus. The holiday crunch hit us hard this year, but we’ve already made an early new year’s resolution to be more consistent in posting this indispensably informative and wildly entertaining local news smorgasbord. We’re getting a head start in fulfilling our 2024 commitment with this short, uplifting edition and a longer 2023 Year in Review coming by Monday. Enjoy the Show! Literally!

Mario the Magician Makes it Big

Mario the Maker Magician, who runs his family-oriented business out of their home in Nyack, helped Jimmy Fallon wrap up The Tonight Show last week. (Photo by Todd Owyoung / NBC)

Roughly 15 years ago, Mario Marchese — a former Nyack College student (and dropout) who worked as a waiter at Temptations as a punk rock teenager and then travelled the country with his dog, Cloud Kicker, learning, along the way, how to make magic — became Mario the Magician, a successful regional magician who dominated the kids’ birthday party scene from New City to Battery City.

Over the past few years, however, Mario and his wife, Katie, who essentially runs the entire show behind the scenes (not to mention the daily contributions of tween daughter, Gigi, and 9-year-old Bear) experienced an evolution.

To hone their act and embrace their gypsy-like nature, Mario the Magician evolved into Mario the Maker Magician and the family-created show hit the road.

A few years ago, they spent a long stretch working as the opening act for superstar David Blaine and now spend about half their year away from their Nyack home base in places like Tennessee and Michigan and California — much to the chagrin of their Nyack friends! (Quick transparency note: Mario’s wife Katie is my wife’s cousin, which means I get to tell everyone that Mario the Maker Magician is my cousin and I’m not totally lying.)

This fall, Katie and Mario decided to set up a way to stay close to home and maintain the larger venues and audience they found on the road. The result was a brilliant, frenetically paced, and deeply inspirational one-hour experience at the SoHo Playhouse. They will wrap up their 32-show sold out run on with a final two shows on Saturday, Dec. 30.

It also meant attention from Manhattan-based celebrities and an appearance last week on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, his biggest audience yet. He did not disappoint.

Check it out:

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After wrapping up their run in SoHo on Saturday, Nyack’s favorite maker family will get a short respite before heading to Georgia, Massachusetts and then across multiple time zones for a month-long residency in Australia in February. (If you didn’t get a chance to see Mario in Manhattan, I hear Adelaide is lovely in February.)

I can only imagine, in my wildest dreams, what this act’s next evolution will look like. And that’s the point.

Mario unearthing a playing card from a banana in his final trick on The Tonight Show. (Photo by Todd Owyoung / NBC)

Editor’s note: I didn’t come up with description of Mario in the headline, Katie Marchese wrote most of that headline in a press release she sent out a few months ago.

In other news:

  • Just two stories we had to mention for now (we’ll have more updates Monday):
  • RIP Funny Business, Downtown Nyack’s beloved comic and toy shop, which officially closed up shop after a 14-year-run just a few days ago after reaching a deal to liquidate all their remaining inventory. You will be missed!
  • Rockland’s sole congressman, Mike Lawler, is banning journalists from public town hall events. Lohud’s David McKay Wilson went to one of these town halls as a constituent and then wrote about for the paper, but then followed up with questions that went unanswered, including queries about his press ban. Lawler, who routinely does interviews on national cable channels, says his ban of local media at his publicly funded town hall events (which is in violation of the spirit of 1st Amendment, according to good government groups) is an attempt to “engage in conversations”, he said at one of his events when asked about the ban. He added that it was “not about people grandstanding in front of reporters, not about having snippets taken out of context or mischaracterized, as has often been the case by the person sitting behind you.” Ok, fine. That makes some logical sense. But it’s also a shallow and cynical view of our local press, which includes many fine reporters, includes us and many journalists at Lohud who do not grandstand and are genuinely interested in informing the public about Lawler’s views. Perhaps, instead of blaming the local press for national narratives that might be skewing local perspectives, we should focus more on getting politicians to be more transparent with the press locally and avoid grandstanding nationally.

ICYM NNV’s weekly features: See Andrea Swenson’s newest Photo Shoots; Bill Batson’s latest “Nyack Sketch Log”; Mike Hays’ most recent “Nyack People & Places”; past editions of “The Villages”

Weather prediction (through New Year’s Day 2024)

Looks like we might get some rain on Saturday, but then should have gorgeous sunny days for Sunday (New Year’s Eve and Monday (New Year’s Day. [Click here for the National Weather Service‘s latest 7-day forecast for the Nyack area. Click here for the latest Air Quality Index report for Nyack.]

6+ Months Later: Still looking for answers in the death of Sean Harris

We continue to look into the case of Sean Harris, who died under suspicious circumstances after an hours-long standoff with police on May 30.

[Update: On October 30, a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office said they are still investigating Harris’s case.]

Watch the video from Truth 2 Power below to learn more about what happened and why family, friends and police reform advocates say they want answers.

Here’s our breakdown of what happened.

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Here’s Lohud reporter Nancy Cutler’s in-depth piece on Harris and his mother’s suspicions about her son’s death here.

Village updates

Nyack

  • Here’s the list of all upcoming meetings posted for the Village of Nyack.
  • If you could use help paying your water bills, click here.
  • Drop off humanitarian aid for victims of the war in Ukraine (including first aid, painkillers, blankets, baby food, diapers, non-perishable food, antibiotics and more, at Village Hall, 9 N. Broadway (or at the Orangetown town hall, 26 W. Orangeburg Rd.).

Upper Nyack

South Nyack

  • Thanks to reader request, we have re-added South Nyack, which dissolved as an official village earlier this year. Please send us info about what’s going on in South Nyack at info@nyacknewsandviews.com.

Orangetown

Clarkstown

  • The Technical Advisory Committee, which “evaluates the technical adequacy of land development applications and decides their readiness for Planning Board review,” meets most Wednesdays, including this Wednesday, from 10 am to noon, in the town hall’s Historic Map Room.
  • For a calendar list of all Clarkstown meetings and events, click here.

Other Local Updates

South Nyack advocates have filed a petition with the town of Orangetown seeking to show support for a new Elizabeth Place Playground — the grassy play area and dog park just south of 87 and right off the Esposito trail. After South Nyack dissolved in March, the town found the playground equipment at Elizabeth Place was unsafe and not compliant with ADA regulations and removed it. A new ADA compliant park has been proposed and advocates want to see the proposal approved and implemented. Click here to read and/or sign the petition.

Nyack Schools

Check out our latest Nyack Schools Report, a new regular feature we will post bi-monthly.

Find out what else is going on in Nyack-area schools at Home Page – Nyack Public Schools (nyackschools.org)

Rockland-wide

A rare polio case was recently discovered in Rockland County last summer. Here’s some info on how to protect yourself:

  • New Yorkers can pre-register for a free polio vaccination appointment here or call 845-238-1956 to schedule. Walk-ins will also be accepted.
  • Vaccines are also available through local healthcare providers, including Federally Qualified Health Centers.
  • For more information on polio including symptoms and spread, visit NYSDOH’s page here.
  • New Yorkers can learn more about the polio vaccine available in the U.S. at CDC’s page here.
  • The Reviving Rockland Restaurants Grant Program will reimburse businesses between $5,000 and $25,000 for past expenses or fund future expenses for eligible outdoor dining COVID-19 mitigation equipment. Eligible entities include restaurants, food stands, food trucks, bars, saloons, lounges, taverns, bakeries, delis, cafes, breweries, wineries, and other similar places of business. For more information and to download an application visit rocklandgov.com.
  • Fill out this survey to help the county provide better digital services.

Musical Outro

To get you fired up for the New Year! Next year’s going to better than this year!

Connect with Nyack News and Views

Note to readers: We want to hear from you and welcome your input! What do you think we should be covering in your Rockland County village? Let us know at info@nyacknewsandviews.com. Send us story ideas, issues to investigate, letters, reviews, photos, videos, feedback and news tips. And read about our vision for delivering high-quality, hyper-local journalism and how you can help us fulfill our mission going forward.

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