Celebrating 30 Years of Magic!
During the summer of 2018, T.J. Shimeld (a.k.a. Wendal Wandell) celebrated thirty years as a professional magician in the most magical of places: Santa’s Land Fun Park & Zoo in Cherokee, North Carolina.
“I could not have thought of a more perfect place,” said Shimeld. “Ever since visiting Santa’s Land when my son was young, I knew it was the perfect venue for my Wendal Wandell character.” And the summer audiences certainly agreed!
Sharon Smith, Entertainment Director at Santa’s Land Fun Park & Zoo, saw it was the ideal fit. She explains in a letter:
“To Whom it May Concern:
It has been our honor and privilege to have T.J. Shimeld performing here at Santa’s Land this fall (2017). He has an extraordinary charisma and rapport with children and the audience in general. This is not an easy venue to work at but T.J. is so evolved and skilled at his craft that he can make simple things great and hold the attention of very young children for a half hour! The parents are equally entertained! In short he’s the best of the best!”
As a result of Shimeld’s successful short stint performing in the fall of 2017, his contract was extended for the entire 2018 season. It is during which his thirty year anniversary of magic fell. As he stated from the stage to a round of applause: “I’ve been performing professionally for thirty years! Thirty years!” And then Shimeld lowered his voice to confide: “And what is even more impressive … I’m only twenty-five years old!”
After seeing “Marco the Magi’s Production of ‘Le Grand David and His Own Spectacular Magic Company’” in Beverly, Massachusetts at age seven, Shimeld went to the library to get out a book on magic: The Complete Illustrated Book of Close-up Magic by Walter B. Gibson. Some of the magic he learned from that book he still thrills audiences with today. And, furthermore, little did he know that he would meet the author’s nephew, Wendel Gibson, whom just so happened to have started the Society of Young Magicians, the youth chapter of the Society of American Magicians.
At age eleven, Shimeld joined Assembly #1 of the Society of Young Magicians (S.Y.M.) in Nashua, New Hampshire, and, with Gibson’s encouragement, began performing professionally at birthday parties with his best friend, Ron Goldberg. “T.J.’s and Ron’s Magic Shows” was born. Soon, through the encouragement of another apprentice of Gibson’s, James Lantiegne, the two young magicians had a professional polished show that became known as “Magical Moments” which they performed throughout New England.
Shimeld’s first book was a biography of Walter B. Gibson, the author of the library book that taught Shimeld his first tricks. And today, Shimeld honors his early influences by performing in the spectacular style of Le Grand David, and using his mentor’s name as Wendal Wandell.