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Storyteller Alice McGill believes 'We're all just...


Storyteller Alice McGill believes 'We're all just folk'

As a child, Alice McGill walked miles to hear a well-told tale.

Now people travel great distances to hear hers.

The Columbia storyteller and actress, who has performed in 29 states and on network TV, revels in the turnabout.

"I think that I illustrate . . . there is a common bond, a thread that says, 'We're all just folk,' " says the mother of two, who declines to give her age.

Her stories -- some of which she creates herself -- focus on common themes: the importance of honesty, hard work and conquering adversity. She learned these virtues as a sharecropper's daughter growing up in North Carolina.

"After I finished college, I thought it would be bred out of me because I was educated. But it kept tugging at me, so I decided to answer," she says.

She'll perform at 1:30 and 3 this afternoon as part of the African-American Cultural Festival at the Walters Art Gallery.

And how does the story of Alice McGill end?

The way any good fairy tale does:

"And she lived happily ever after."

Barry Gibson has something he wants you to know.

Yes, he will spend Valentine's Day dressing up as the King of Hearts, spraying the air with passion-inducing "pixie dust" and marching down Main Street in Ellicott City.

But it's for a good cause: the promotion of the quaint Howard County town.

As the unofficial mayor of Ellicott City, Mr. Gibson makes it his business to deal with the serious and not-so-serious subjects of the day.

Several years ago, his wife Nancy, who owns the Forget-Me-Not Factory, a fantasy-oriented gift and costume shop in Ellicott City, suggested he make holidays more festive by dressing up.

Mr. Gibson, who creates dentures for a living, agreed. "My daytime life is very conservative. This is my second personality," he says.

A 39-year-old man parading around as the Easter bunny does elicit unusual reactions. Mr. Gibson, who is also the president of the Ellicott City Business Association, has fielded requests to perform at parties ("You couldn't pay me enough!") and received hugs from drunken women.

The challenge ahead? Coming up with a Christopher Columbus outfit to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the explorer's arrival in the New World.

"I have to have him discover Ellicott City some way," he says.

Have someone to suggest? Write Mary Corey, Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278, or call (410) 332-6156.

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