Columbus escape artist and magic showman Michael Griffin issued a challenge Wednesday to Summit County Sheriff Drew Alexander.
During a preview of the magic show he will perform June 30 at the Canal Days Arts Festival, Griffin boasted he could escape from the best restraints the sheriff could produce.
“I am issuing a challenge, as we speak, to the sheriff of the area. I defy him to lock me up with his best handcuffs and leg restraints,” Griffin said.
At the festival, Griffin will be trussed in a straitjacket and lowered into the Ohio & Erie Canal in a death-defying escape attempt. The entertainer, who usually performs an act reminiscent of the famous Harry Houdini’s, is being billed as “Houducky” for the event. That’s in honor of the crowd-pleasing annual Rubber Duck Derby that will be run throughout the day.
Festivalgoers purchase chances to compete in duck races down the canal. Tickets may be obtained in advance at www.cascadelocks.org or at the festival.
Winning racers will vie for tickets to the Bridgestone Invitational or Cleveland Indians games or a stay at Sheraton Suites in Cuyahoga Falls, said Ferris Brown, executive director of the Cascade Park Locks Association.
More than 3,000 people are expected to send yellow rubber ducks down the canal during the event, he said.
During the sneak peek of his show Wednesday at the Mustill Store, Griffin tapped audience members Tim Miller and Ben Liddle, both of Akron, to help him with rope tricks he said Houdini claimed a man could never escape. Katy Miller, also of Akron, assisted Griffin as he swallowed 40 individual straight pins and a string to pull them out again.
But it was Griffin’s attempt to escape the confines of a straitjacket that enthralled spectators as they watched his gyrations to get out of the tightly strapped fabric.
Festivalgoers will have to see for themselves if Griffin was successful. He will perform his magic show throughout the day, culminating with his being dropped into the canal shortly before 4 p.m.
The annual duck derby raises funds for the restoration of the historic locks and park in an area from Perkins Street north to the Mustill store, including Locks 10 though 16, said Robert Keener, president of the board of directors for the association.
The Mustill Store, 248 Ferndale St., is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays from March 31 to Oct. 28 and is located in Cascade Locks Park.
The free festival June 30, sponsored by the Cascade Locks Park Association, runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Schumacher Cascade Mills site and the Mustill Store.
Other entertainment includes artist stalls, food vendors, music and a kids’ crafts and play area.
And while Alexander appreciated the invitation and challenge from Griffin, he will not be able to participate in the show, said Inspector Bill Holland, spokesman for the sheriff’s office.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.