2018-01-14 / Insight

Lapeer’s DDA director also a ‘close-up’ magician

BY NICHOLAS PUGLIESE
810-452-2601 • npugliese@mihomepaper.com


Lapeer Downtown Development Director Jim Alt spends his day building and promoting the downtown area, working toward business retention and recovery and planning events, but he always finds time for his true passion — performing magic. 
Photo by Nicholas Pugliese Lapeer Downtown Development Director Jim Alt spends his day building and promoting the downtown area, working toward business retention and recovery and planning events, but he always finds time for his true passion — performing magic. Photo by Nicholas Pugliese LAPEER — Lapeer Downtown Development Director Jim Alt was only 6 years old when he witnessed something magical.

Now 38, Alt has been the Lapeer DDA’s director for a little over two years, but the fulltime (and then some) responsibilities demanded by his position have nothing to slow down his passion, sparked on that fateful day over three decades ago.

Alt is a practitioner in “close-up” magic, and he’s pursued the art of legerdemain since first grade. “I was in elementary school, my parents took me to see Virgil, the Man of Mystery at the Armory here in Lapeer and I was blown away,” said Alt. Alt’s parents encouraged his burgeoning interest buy gifting him a small magic kit, “a cheap, grocery store kind,” he said, and he’s never looked back. “That turned into even more interest, more complex magic kits,” said Alt.


Jim Alt recently performed at Magic in Metamora with fellow magicians Trino and Jonathon LaChance and has been honing his style of “close-up” magic for decades. While his day job of running the Lapeer Downtown Development Authority demands much of his time, he can still be found performing several times a year in and around Lapeer. Jim Alt recently performed at Magic in Metamora with fellow magicians Trino and Jonathon LaChance and has been honing his style of “close-up” magic for decades. While his day job of running the Lapeer Downtown Development Authority demands much of his time, he can still be found performing several times a year in and around Lapeer. According to Alt, his interest in magic hit fever pitch in 1990, when his parents brought him to Colon, Michigan, known as “The Magic Capital of the World,” a trip that “sealed the deal,” he said. Magic is a big deal in Colon, a town of barely more than 1,000 people, and features the former home and burial site of famous magician Harry Blackstone, Sr, as well as multiple magic supply stores, weekly magic shows during the summer and a yearly magic convention, dubbed “the Get- Together.”

Alt said that after his initial visit to Colon, there was no going back. He was a magician. “There’s three magic stores in their two-square-block downtown, which is about a quarter the size of Lapeer,” he said. Now, since he’s returned to the Lapeer area in 2011 after spending time living in Pittsburgh, he’s made the yearly trek each August to return to Colon for the Get- Together. “The magic community is special, it’s like a family,” he said. “You get to catch up with magicians that you see once a year and you get to meet magicians that headline Vegas and everyone treats you like part of the family.”

While Alt said he’s developed an appreciation for many forms of magic, his preferred variety is “close-up” magic, meant to be performed in an intimate space, usually no more than ten feet away from an audience, and combines sleight-of-hand manipulations and flourishes. “It’s everyday objects and really close to the audience,” said Alt. “I love the close-up stuff because as cool as it is sawing a lady in half, it’s not as cool as making a coin vanish right before your eyes.”

Residents of Lapeer County might recognize Alt in his position with the Lapeer DDA, but others may know him from local stages as well. Last month, Alt performed with fellow magicians Trino and Jonathon LaChance during the event Magic in Metamora, and though December’s show is Alt’s most recent, he also cites it as his favorite. “The PIX is always a highlight as well, since it’s the hometown theater” he added. In 2014, Alt was also able to perform a few card tricks for former U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, who was in Lapeer for a tour.

Alt said magic’s not something he’s planning on giving up any time soon, and has designs to expand his act. “We’re looking at doing a show with Stone’s Throw Theater in October,” he said with a smile. “But we’re still planning it.”

Return to top

Copyright © 2009-2018 The County Press, All Rights Reserved

Click here for the E-Edition
2018-01-14 digital edition

Unrestricted access available to web site subscribers

Subscribers to the County Press newspaper can now purchase the complete online and E-Edition of the paper for as little as $5 for three months. If you want a six month subscription to the online edition it is $10 and a full year can be purchased for $20.

Non-subscribers can sign up for the online version for $15 for three months, $30 for six months and $60 for an annual subscription.