When the Tampa Jaycees were looking for a community fund-raiser this year, they went beyond the usual fare of pancake breakfasts, car washes and spaghetti dinners.
Instead, they pulled out a new bag of tricks _ literally.
Thursday night marks the appearance of "Magic-Fest," an evening of illusions, sleight of hand and entertainment from nine magicians who will be performing at the Jaycee Clubhouse at the Airport Industrial Park.
"This is going to be a lot of fun and a great way for us to showcase our talents," said Patrick Brown, a Brandon magician whose stage name is "Mr. Bones."
Brown and the other performers from the Tampa Bay area will be attempting to dazzle and delight audiences with multiplying coins, disappearing silks and mysterious card tricks, among other illusions.
"To my knowledge there hasn't been anything like this outside of the magic conventions that occur here every few years," said the Amazing Rodini, as he demonstrated how coins can fall up when they are handled by a trained sleight-of-hand artist.
Escape artist and magician Tim Fox hopes this event will lead to a greater interest in magic in Tampa.
"If this event is successful it might become an annual attraction here, and that would be great for everyone who likes magic," Fox said.
University of South Florida student Vince Natale, a newcomer to the magic field who works as a clown and juggler on weekends, is looking forward to entertaining. But he's also excited about seeing what some of his magical peers will be doing at the "Magic-Fest."
"I'll be there as a performer, but as a spectator, too. I love to see what other magicians are doing because no two magicians perform the same trick the same way," Natale said.
The Jaycees decided on magic as the theme for their "Monthly Fun Night" after researching notes on activities that the club has sponsored in the past. Penny Hemmer, club secretary, discovered that the Jaycees sponsored the same kind of event more than 15 years ago.
Tony Marsella, the Jaycees' community development vice president, hopes the turnout will exceed 150 people and said, if necessary, some of the activities can be moved to the parking lot to accommodate a larger crowd.
"Originally the other club members asked me to do a couple of tricks at our monthly club meeting, and I got the idea to call around and see if some local magicians might like to perform for us. The response was great and the thing just started to grow," Marsella said.
There will be four small stage areas set up inside the Jaycee clubhouse at the Airport Industrial Park, 5011 W Hillsborough Ave., Suite M. The nine magicians will take turns performing for 10 to 15 minutes on each of the four stages and then will circulate into the crowd to do an assortment of close-up magic for patrons.
The event runs from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Admission is $1, and proceeds from the event will be donated to the Friends of Tampa Recreation Foundation.