It was then that she saw her first puppet show. She was instantly drawn to the idea of creating something magical for an audience. She was fascinated with having puppets come to life with emotions and character.
A few years later, she was convinced that she wanted to turn puppetry into a hobby. Her love for the art only grew when she discovered the Ed Sullivan Show, his special guest Jim Henson and his puppets. Jim made 25 appearances on the show, and she never missed an episode. One of her favorite puppets was Ralph, a dog who played the piano.
“I loved him. His performances were so popular,” Diane recalled. “He was a little bit older than me. Kind of a hippy. Very raw emotion. He was truly an inspiration to me.”
Once she reached high shool, Diane started saving any money she received for her birthday or Christmas to start her own puppet collection. When she had enough puppets, she started performing at kids birthday parties, town festivals, schools and even a state fair. She loved seeing the smiles shine in the audiences when she was on stage.
Every year, Diane attended the National Puppetry Convention in Schaumburg. Thousands of people would go to this event and watch hundreds of puppet shows put on by professionals from around the world. For Diane, it was an opportunity to network, get ideas to incorporate into her shows and find new puppets to add to her collection.
She kept her puppets in a storage unit. There was so many she lost count.
Unfortunately, there was a leaky roof in the unit. Diane lost most of her puppets due to water damage, and she was completely devastated.
“I lost a piece of my heart when that happened,” she said. “For eight years, I just gave up doing puppetry. I lost my drive to do it.”
Then one day, she finally told herself that even though she lost everything, it didn’t mean she had to give up something she loved. She needed to rebuild. And that, she did.
Last month, Heritage Woods of DeKalb hosted a Columbus Day Petting Zoo that featured a puppet show put on by Diane. Her family built her a brand new stage, and she used an aquatic theme inspired by Narwhal, the first puppet she bought after she lost everything. Her show featured 16 puppets, and the play she put together was 20 minutes.
We are so happy that Diane could reignite her love for puppetry and share her talents with all of us at Heritage Woods!