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An Altogether Magical Adventure with Mr. Larry

There’s no way around it. Mr. Larry is a failure. Nothing goes right for him. He loses things all the time. He is easily confused. He showed up at the Destin Library on Thursday, June 22 and created a wake of chaos.

Mr. Larry is an epic fail.

But Larry Darnell isn’t.

Mr. Darnell, aka Mr. Larry, has specialized in children’s entertainment for over 40 years. He elicits squeals and giggles wherever he goes. While adults enjoy his shows, his entire focus is on the children.

“I like to make a difference, and kids are more fun to work with than adults,” said Mr. Larry.

Hailing from Columbus, Indiana originally, Mr. Larry now resides in Birmingham, Alabama and spends the vast majority of his time in the school systems around that area conducting character education programming. He works with the schools in Alabama and also some in Florida to help teach kids core moral values like honesty, integrity, compassion and generosity.

This plays well with Mr. Larry’s prior experience in children’s ministry. Values, lessons and an appreciation of differences.

“Every school system is different, every show is different, every child is different,” said Mr. Larry.

And that’s the theme he was part of at the Destin Library. His show, “An Altogether Magical Adventure!”, is parallel with the national 2023 library theme of accepting differences in people and recognizing value in all.

“People come in all shapes, all sizes, all colors, and they are all important,” said Mr. Larry. The brick wall behind him shows this. Some bricks are bright, some light, some big, some little, “ … and they all work together to form this great wall,” he said.

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Mr. Larry uses puppetry to help entertain and teach lessons. A sheep dog named Winston and a dove named Dudley are staples to his show, although every show brings its own surprises, both by him and by the audience.

“The reaction of the kids is the best and what drives the show. They go crazy over certain things. It’s fun to see them react,” said Mr. Larry.

The children sat on blankets on the lawn of the Destin Library on a sunny day, wide-eyed and eager to get more of Mr. Larry’s antics. First, he cannot find his magic wand. Then when he does, and it’s only an inch long, madness ensues. But later, when he makes the wand 9-feet long, the children erupt in glee.

Mr. Larry helps children get excited about Destin Library’s popular summer reading program. For lessons on compassion, difference, friendship and tolerance, he recommends a few particular books:

·       The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

·       The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss

·       Stone Soup by Jon J Muth

·       The Ducking Gets a Cookie?! By Mo Willems

He also said the classic The Three Musketeers is always a good book on the topic.

In a colorful vest and tie, Mr. Larry is a far cry from his first career in orthopedic surgical sales after graduating in finance and marketing from Indiana University.

He failed (chose a different adventure) from that job, and he has never looked back.

Judging by the crowd reaction, maybe Mr. Larry isn’t a failure after all.