It may not be news that the spread of COVID-19 – and the various measures designed to combat it – has served to bring us some very unusual sights around the world. However, there’s something else that has been spreading in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in recent times – joy.
That is partly thanks to the giant, full-body puppets that have been appearing around the city.
They’re the work of an artist from the local Brighton Heights neighbourhood, Cheryl Capezzuti, who has hundreds of puppet costumes in her North Side studio, and has put them to a previously unfamiliar use in the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic.
“I thought they might brighten someone’s day”
The puppet costumes that the artist creates have been a common sight in the past at various events and celebrations around Pittsburgh. Some of them, for example, perform for the annual Highmark First Night Pittsburgh Parade.
However, Capezzuti has now found a different way to share the costumes amid the chaos and disruption brought about by the coronavirus outbreak.
She was quoted as saying by the TribLive.com website of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: “When the stay-at-home order was announced, I thought about my puppets and how they wouldn’t be going out anywhere anytime soon.
“So I had this idea to share the puppets with Pittsburghers. I thought they might brighten someone’s day during this trying time.”
A major local hit
Capezzuti, who teaches art at Falk Lab School in Oakland, took to Facebook to post an invitation offering to lend out the puppet costumes.
She then began to receive positive responses, even from people she didn’t know – prompting her to start disinfecting and distributing the costumes around the area, leaving each one on someone’s front porch.
Among those who saw the Facebook post was Rebecca Maclean of Highland Park, who wanted a costume for her children – Duncan Rieger, 16, Emmy Thompson, 11, and Brighid Thompson, 7.
“It sounded fun and a little bizarre,” Maclean commented. “It made me smile and now it’s making other people smile too.”
Another person who wore one of the costumes, Sara Leitera of Squirrel Hill, said drivers honked their horns as she walked through the neighbourhood in it.
“You can dance and have fun and no one knows who you are because they can’t see your face,” she observed, adding: “When I was walking in my neighbourhood... I had people laughing. We all need that right now.”
Those are sentiments that we can only agree with strongly here at Puppets By Post – and needless to say, we love to see yet another example in the wider world of how the magic of puppetry is helping people to get through stressful and troubling times.
Remember that we’re continuing to sell the best in full-body puppets, hand puppets and all of the other associated accessories this spring. So why not give yourself your own little treat in the form of puppetry, whether you are a parent, guardian, teacher, professional puppeteer or enthusiast?