(Copyright 2002. The Tattoo. All rights reserved.)

Making a permanent impression since 1994

April 8, 2002

Hypnotist mesmerizes teens

By Jacqui Moreau

You only graduate from high school once. You remember what you wore, who you were with and everything you did that day for the rest of your life.

Every year, a dozen dedicated parents of Lewis Mills seniors run ‘Project Graduation,’ a year-long fund-raising campaign that affords an unforgettable after-graduation party.

Sales of the ‘Entertainment’ coupon books, Yankee Candles and ‘The Pampered Chef’ culinary accessories have been the big fundraisers so far this year.

But no other fundraiser compares to the Dan LaRosa hypnotist show, which made its annual appearance at Lewis Mills recently.

“We just want to have fun tonight,” LaRosa told the audience, which nearly filled the Mills auditorium.

Each student paid $5 and each adult forked over $8 for a dynamic night out that proved much more entertaining than any big screen show.

Hypnotism bridges the subconscious and conscious states of mind. In trance, the intellectual mind relaxes, and people are enabled and more willing to do as their nature dictates. People under hypnosis only act under their value system.

The victims often lack full awareness of their surroundings, and, in this case, that they have an audience. Because the participants are not quite asleep, but not fully awake, they make act in ways that later make them feel embarrassed.

LaRosa entertains about 150 crowds each year. He travels distances ranging from as close his hometown in Middletown to Europe , where he will soon lighten up U.S. troops abroad.

When he asked for a show of hands as to how many people had come to last years’ presentation, half of the crowd thrust their arms into the air.

The audience was full of energy: they wanted to have fun that night too.

“I won’t make you act like a chicken or a dog,” LaRosa promised the two dozen volunteers that he called onto the stage. “I won’t make you tell your deepest, darkest secrets either.”

La Rosa quickly weeded out those he considered resistant to hypnosis, leaving only a dozen or so victims.

“I’m going to make you feel relaxed, like at a bus stop,” was one of the jumbled sentences the hypnotist spoke.

A series of tone changes, obscure words thrown into his sentences and peculiar deep breathing into the microphone characterized his speech throughout the show.

Over the course of the night, a student usually seen “moshing” at a rock concert was dancing ballet, a group of junior and sophomore boys stood out as they learned to luau, and a senior boy yelled at the audience in Chinese.

When asked if she was a believer, audience member and Lewis Mills Senior Lauren Cables said, “Some people just fake it, but sometimes it’s real.”

Catie Aylsworth, also a senior at Mills affirmed, “I think that you have to have the right mindset to really be hypnotized.”

LaRosa’s 22 years of experience was evident in the crowd’s awestruck response to the show.

The show night also kicked of a large-scale fund-raising raffle. Prizes such as a DVD player and gift certificates from local vendors will go to the winners. Town residents will have the opportunity to purchase tickets through the mail.

The annual ‘Project Graduation’ Tag Sale, held at the Harwinton Fairgrounds, is expected to take place in early May as well.