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Rye Woman Finds Purpose In Entertaining Children

RYE, N.Y. -- Ten years ago Dawn Halasz had been working as an accountant when she decided to leave it all behind to become a children's entertainer.

"This is the total opposite of accounting," Halasz said.

Halasz goes by the stage name "Dawny Dew" and performs educational song and puppet shows for toddlers at the Rye Free Reading Room and other venues in town.

The former accountant had taken her one-year old to the library for a morning children's program, where she met Ellen Kaplan, who would inspire her to pursue a new career path. 

"She gave me a whole new life," said Halasz, who learned from Kaplan how to perform as a children's entertainer and educator.

Watching Kaplan entertain children, Halasz realized this was the perfect way to spend more time with her own child. Kaplan mentored Halasz in the craft, and took her on as an understudy.

"I was supposed to be a substitute," said Halasz. "The next thing I know I'm doing this every single day."

Kaplan still performs at the library as "Ellen Watermelon," alternating days with Halasz.

A one-woman show, Halasz wheels around a suitcase filled with hand puppets and stuffed animals and carries an auto-harp slung around her shoulder.

"I never had any musical training or experience in entertainment," said Halasz. "When I first started learning the auto-harp, I practiced everyday in the basement where no one could hear me."

Looking back at her career as an accountant, Halasz has no regrets.

"It's so rewarding to work with children who appreciate what you do and are learning from you," she said. "And I feel like I'm giving back to the community."

Have you taken your children to Halasz's program at the library?

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