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Mary Brown, right, leads a “Puppet Stroll” Saturday morning from her Berea store, Puppets and Such, to the tourism center in the middle of Old Town. Parade participants include, from left, Andy Stiltner, Ken Stegman, Joshua Stegman, Tricia Stegman and Robert Lee, all of Richmond. The parade was in celebration of the national Day of Puppetry.

BEREA — Puppets ruled Saturday in Berea as Richard and Mary Brown, puppeteers and owners of the newly opened Puppets and Such, led a free puppet workshop in their store, followed by a “Puppet Stroll” down North Broadway to the Berea Visitor’s Center.

A half dozen area residents participated in a kind of free-form workshop at the store, located at 123 North Broadway, from 9 to 11 a.m., using a host of materials, such as egg cartons, paper plates, decorative pipe cleaners, glue and tinsel, and their own creativity to build puppets ranging from a paper plate chicken to a princess, and watched a puppet show put on by the Browns.

The workshop was capped off by the puppet stroll that allowed participants to show off their creations. A 10-foot wizard puppet, operated by Richard Brown, ensured that the mini-parade attracted lots of attention from on-lookers  as it proceeded up the sidewalk.

The Browns followed up by presenting a puppet show at 1 and 3:30 p.m. at the shop. Similar performances were scheduled for 1 and 3:30 p.m. Sunday (today).

They also have scheduled a “Punch and Judy” show, appropriate for all ages, for 2:30 p.m. May 19 and 26. Go to their website at www.puppetsandsuch.com for announcements of future activities.

Mary Brown is a retired teacher, who worked most recently at West Liberty University in West Liberty, West Virginia, teaching teacher’s elementary education, early childhood education and general education.

Her husband, Richard, a music-education and music-history instructor at the same university, plans to retire in about two weeks and join Mary in their new venture in Berea.

The couple became interested in puppets and puppetry as an outgrowth of their teaching duties.

The shop features items such as hand puppets, marionettes, masks, materials for puppet making, books and other related materials.

Richard Brown said that as soon as he retires, he and his wife will run the shop and present programs at local libraries, schools and other community organizations and at private functions.

While they currently have ready-made puppets available in the store, Richard said that when he joins Mary they will be making their own creations in a workshop in the rear part of the store, Regular store hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

The Browns said they chose Berea for their venture because of its reputation as a center for arts and crafts and its warm, small-town atmosphere.

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