Read Across America event at TownMall to feature magician, other entertainment to celebrate reading

Hampstead resident and magician Dave Thomen will be among the attractions at this year's National Education Association's Read Across America Day on Saturday, during which organizers will celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday and hope to spread the joy of reading.

"You can't do anything without being a great reader," Thomen said. "You can meet anyone; you can travel anywhere; and you can learn anything from reading."


Thomen's program will pair magic with well-known Dr. Seuss books "The Cat in The Hat" and "One Fish, Two Fish." He'll ask participants to help him find magical bookworms and The Cat in the Hat's hat will make a special apperance, Thomen said. He hinted that he might have a few other tricks up his sleeve as well.

More than 1,000 participants are expected to attend the 16th annual event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Belk Court at TownMall of Westminster.

The event is sponsored by Carroll County Education Association, Carroll Association of School Employees, WTTR Radio and LPL Integrated Financial Solutions Inc. The National Education Association's reading initiative began in 1998 to celebrate the value of reading and to commemorate Dr. Seuss' birthday.

"The initiative has grown and grown," said Ted Payne, president of the Carroll County Education Association. "Carroll County has one of the largest events. … We've turned it into a full community celebration."

Kylee Woerner, marketing manager for TownMall, said the first 200 children to arrive will receive a free "Green Eggs and Ham" breakfast at Casa Rica Restaurante. Adults can purchase the breakfast for $5.

"The whole point is to celebrate the joy of reading," Woerner said.

Heather McKenzie, a fifth-grade teacher at Cranberry Station Elementary School in Westminster and this year's Read Across America Day chairwoman, has been volunteering at the event for several years. She and other teachers donate their time each year to help spread the joy of reading.

"We've organized a variety activities for readers and their parents," McKenzie said.

McKenzie said Read Across America Day will feature storytime with Carroll County Public School students, face-painting, balloon art, door prizes, activity tables, a gently used book giveaway table and free Random House books.

Attendees can also meet the Oriole Bird, Ravens mascot Poe and other costumed characters.

"Kids will have the opportunity to see different varieties of reading," Payne said. "There will be so many activities for the kids and parents to enjoy."

Reach staff writer Michel Elben at 410-857-7873 or

If you go

What: The National Education Association's Read Across America Day


When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 28

Where: TownMall of Westminster's Belk Court, 400 N. Center St., Westminster

Cost: Free