Dean and Chester teach life lessons in their school presentations.
Things are not always as they appear.
Crowds gathered around when Dean Bohl came to Dickens Victorian Village with his Twisted Balloons and Chester. The young and young at heart enjoy his charades with Chester, while children can be seen running proudly down the street holding one of his balloon sculptures.
Dean has been entertaining since he was in his late thirties when he decided to use ventriloquism, balloons, and magic to motive and encourage his audience. He twists his balloons into intriguing characters that the children enjoy.
Chester Sidney Dolittle is this ventriloquist’s best friend on stage. His sidekick Chester, an eight-year-old, becomes so real that people forget he is a puppet. He tells the audience, “Girls are beautiful. Boys have stinky feet.”
An unusual section of his performance involves an unsuspecting audience member, who becomes his “Living Puppet.” A mask is placed on the person’s face and he becomes the voice from Dean Bohl. Fun and excitement happen next as they sing, tell jokes, recite poetry, and become involved in interesting conversations.
As a youngster, Dean’s mother developed polio and was told her condition would require institutionalization. But during her hospital stay, she had a dream where Jesus visited her and when she woke up, she told them, “Jesus is going to make me better.” Three weeks later she walked out of the hospital.
This miracle changed the course of their family’s life and Dean at the age of 16 felt a call to follow the path his parents had taken. On his mind previously, this White Sox fan wanted to follow a career in professional baseball. Now, he decided, “God, give me peace and joy of living. I’ll do what you want me to do.”
For several years, Dean was a pastor in Illinois and then decided to be an associate pastor was more to his calling where he worked with children and choir. He received encouragement from those around him and moved his family to a church in San Diego, CA where puppets entered the scene as a way to reach children.
It seemed he was always in the right place at the right time as people just appeared when he needed to learn something new. Chester was made especially for Dean by a popular San Diego Ventriloquist Co. and became part of his life in October 1978.
The puppet’s name came from three sources. “Chester” was the name given by the company while “Sidney “ was the name of the pastor, who believed in Dean when he started his puppet ministry. “Dolittle” of course, came easily as Chester doesn’t do much! Dean then developed Chester’s voice and personality before their first show together on Christmas Eve.
Since then, Dean and Chester have developed a special connection. Things come from Chester that they had never intended to say. Sometimes the conversation between the two of them is so fast that it sounds like both are talking at the same time.
Dean and his wife had two small children at this time so carefully discussed their new idea of traveling the United States with a puppet show. His understanding wife told him, “If we don’t do this, we will always wonder if it would have worked.” The traveled the road for a few years before settling in Dublin, Ohio.
Along the way, he met someone in a store who asked him what he gave away at his shows. They suggested he make balloon creatures and it just happened that a balloon artist walked into the store. The right people always seemed to show up as part of God’s plan for his life.
Twisted balloons are a special feature of his program and he has developed a unique way of combining three to five balloons to make Star Wars lightsabers, princess lighted rings, teddy bears, OSU football helmets and the list goes on. Ideas are shared with balloon artists all over the world.
He stumbled upon his idea for the “Living Puppet” from a show he witnessed in England and New Zealand. This is a more recent addition to his program. A man in the Phillippines makes his masks for him so Dean can control them from behind – just like a regular puppet. He is blessed with wonderful connections.
His school programs not only entertain but also teach a lesson. In one skit, Chester calls people names and makes fun of them, but then Dean calls Chester a “Dummy” and Chester gets so upset he hides in his box and won’t come out. Calling names may seem funny but someone always gets hurt in the process. “Once you get a reputation, it is hard to shake it.”
Or Chester might find a beautiful balloon apple on the ground. When he picks it up, a balloon worm pops out. “Things can be beautiful on the outside and not so perfect on the inside.”
Now Dean is retired, but he still looks forward to being with people and having fun. Life lessons seem to pop into his shows naturally. You might find him entertaining at fairs, birthday parties, school assemblies, camps, corporate events, and more.
Watch for Dean Bohl and Chester in your neighborhood as they spread a little happiness to those that stop by. You might even get into the act!
Contact Dean to set up a performance by calling his cell phone at 614-314-0696 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dean has moved so the address on the card is no longer correct.