Puppet Masters: San Diego Puppet Guild marks its 20th anniversary

By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt

On a downtown rooftop June 14, friends and members of the San Diego Puppetry Guild came together to celebrate the organization’s 20th anniversary. Like the Guild itself, the crowd was small but enthusiastic, and the Tenth Avenue Arts Center rooftop was a fine place in the sun for adults and children to enjoy the afternoon activities, which included playing with an assortment of puppets or making one’s own, out of pool- noodle pieces and other odds and ends.

The Guild, which started out in 1957 as an informal group of local puppeteers, got its nonprofit status in 1994, and has been offering performances, workshops and exhibits in schools and art centers around the county ever since, with a special interest in bringing shows to underserved communities.

Among the attendees at the event was County Supervisor Dave Roberts, a Puppetry Guild supporter, who presented a certificate, signed by all five supervisors, in honor of the Guild’s 20 years of service, along with a $2,000 Community Enhancement grant.

“This was a reaal wow for us!” said Lynne Jennings, president of the San Diego Puppetry Guild’s board of directors. “We’re going to use it to take our new anti-bullying show to schools that would otherwise never be able to afford one of our programs.”

• Want to have face-to-face time with some of the puppet performers? Puppeteer Mindy Donner and others will be part of this year’s

San Diego Fringe Festival

(coming July 3-13), presenting “

A Matinee with Miss Peg and other pieces

,” 2 p.m. July 6 and July 13, as well as 12:30 p.m. July 12, at the Tenth Avenue Arts Center’s Cabaret Theatre, 930 10th Ave. No. 2, downtown San Diego. Tickets are $10. Look for La Jolla puppeteer Mark Zweifach in one of the “other pieces,” along with his new best friend, Hondo, who was one of the stars in last year’s Fringe Festival. For information, visit

• For a real taste of what the Puppetry Guild can do, take the kids to the

Welcome to Middle School Parade

, 8:30- 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 8 in City Heights. You’ll see a grand and festive procession of giant puppets made by sixth- graders, with a little help from the pros at the Guild. For more about this or other upcoming events, e-mail