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Photo gallery: Traveling percussionist delights local children; Reserve show planned Tuesday

LAPLACE — The central library in LaPlace was alive with the sound of drums, cymbals and lots of bells Thursday night as more than 40 children participated in a whimsical performance with traveling percussionist Elizabeth Vidos.

Better known as “Lady Chops” in libraries across Louisiana, Vidos is on a mission to preserve music culture among youth.

Children were delighted by the hour-long show in LaPlace, which opened with Vidos making music with stacked cups and a wooden box.

Audience members clapped along to the sound of the beat and tried their hands at cymbal, triangle, slapstick and rainmaker accompaniment to classic holiday songs.

Some children got up from their lily-pad seats and danced, while others approached Vidos after the show to test different types of drumsticks.

“Some of these kids have never held a musical instrument before,” Vidos said. “So many parents ask me after, ‘Where do I get these instruments or these drums? My kid wants to play now.’ My mission is to inspire our Louisiana kids to keep the tradition alive. I think that music is a huge part of Louisiana’s culture. If we aren’t encouraging our kids to play, we might lose that.”

Vidos resides in Ruston and she’s toured the world playing garbage cans on the off-Broadway theatrical show “Stomp.”

She’s performed her one-woman percussion act at schools, detention centers and other youth-oriented venues, but she always comes back to public libraries, visiting as many as 90 across Louisiana each summer.

Central Library branch supervisor Jo Ann Proctor said library staff invited Vidos back to St. John the Baptist Parish after seeing her perform during a summer reading program in July.

Proctor was thrilled with the turnout at Thursday’s Christmas program.

“What we like about her is she always involves the kids,” Proctor said. “I am astounded that we got the community to come in spite of the weather, and the kids had a great time with the drumming. It’s a different type of program. It really got everyone into the Christmas spirit, and we’re really glad for the turnout.”

St. John Parish residents Shital and Khushboo Perekh use the library’s Facebook page to stay updated on children’s programs at the Central Library each month.

“We come to almost all events,” Shital Perekh said. “Whenever the kids come to the library, they are happy. The people at the library put a lot into it to make kids entertained, and the kids really love it.”

Vidos’ will perform the same program, named “Here Come the Bells; So Many Bells,” from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Reserve branch, to be followed by a visit from Santa.

Children who attended Thursday sat on Santa’s lap after the musical performance and left with a free printed photo.

St. John Library Assistant Director Dana Douglas said the library’s Santa photos are a cost-free solution for families who cannot afford holiday photos.

Proctor said St. John Parish Libraries host programs for patrons “ages 0 to 99.”

“The library is the focal point of the community,” Proctor said. “We’re looking for ways to interest our entire community.”