You are here:

Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce continues tradition of sharing blessings with local community By Lord Mic

  The Chamber began their holiday wrap up by bringing friend and master illusionist Walter King, Jr., “The Spellbinder” to town as an end of the year reward for some special Peoria Public School students. It wasn’t just a magic show, it was a full magical experience. He’s captivated audiences from Las Vegas to the Caribbean Islands and abroad, having entertained with Hollywood A-listers like Whitney Houston, Gladys Knight, Sinbad, Jennifer Hudson, and The Temptations, to name a few.

It was a treat having his stylish presentation which included levitation, live doves, and illusions from around the world, right here in Peoria providing an enriching experience of wonder and amazement for the holiday season.

The shows were unbelievably entertaining and thought-provoking. The Spellbinder connects his love for art and illusions/magic and tells students about how school and learning to read helped him become who he is today.

“I was a street dancer, a pop locker doing the Electric Boogie,” says King, remembering his earliest tricks of turning gloves into flowers and making a cane appear from nowhere – all to the beats of music. “It had to be something that worked well with dancing; everything stems from theater for me. That’s my background. Theatre is where I live,” he explains, passionately. “My Bachelor’s Degree is in fine arts (from Columbia College). Art and theater coming together is what I do on stage and is really what has made me successful on stage.”

On Thursday, December 20th, the Chamber and their partners welcomed Santa Claus to town for a special visit with nearly two hundred pre-registered Peoria families at the Gateway Building for the ninth annual “Heart of Christmas” Toy Giveaway! Each family took home a BIG bag of toys, books, an awesome fruit basket, and pictures with Santa. There was also a chance to win one of many bicycles or big screen TV’s…at absolutely no cost to the families!

A little over 10 years ago, longtime Chamber board member and founder of the AGAPE Foundation, Mike Sutton started the Heart of Christmas event as a way to give back to his families in his native Chicago community, and then carried his spirit of giving on to Indianapolis in the successive years. After he was compelled to expand his business footprint and bring more career opportunities into the Peoria and Central Illinois area, it made perfect sense to bring his art of giving along too. It wasn’t long before that energy spoke to the spirit of Larry Ivory and the ILBCC team. Soon, the art of giving back was a requisite of the strong firms and Chamber clients looking to capitalize on the Central Illinois markets.

“The spirit of Christmas is not really about what you get; it’s about what you can give to others. We were able to work with Peoria Public Schools and others to find families that really needed some help for the holidays, and we appreciate those families giving us the opportunity to help make their Christmas’ a little bit better,” said Larry Ivory, ILBCC President-CEO.

“An extra special shout out and heartfelt “thank you” goes to our wonderful corporate partners and sponsors who helped make these events possible: Michael Sutton & Infrastructure Engineering, Illinois American Water Company, Ben McMillan & the IDG Architects team, Par-a-Dice Hotel & Casino, Ameren Illinois, WSP, Paul Mareno & Millennia Professional Services, Rumberger’s Wings & More, Peoria County Sheriff Asbell, Diana Oberhelman & Cullinan Properties. And we can’t forget that special group of elves that make camp in our home office every year to ensure that we’re able to rise to the challenge. We look forward to making next year’s event even more successful,” said Ivory.

The entire Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce family wishes you great tidings of cheer in this New Year!

Get a bird’s eye view of what’s important to the Black business community by texting ILBCC to 22828 for your free subscription to the Black Business News Journal.

For more information on the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce visit