|Wand breaking ceremony in 2010 (Tablet)|
The Society of American Magicians held the traditional wand breaking ceremony at Houdini's grave yesterday to commemorate the 85th Anniversary of the great magician's death. The S.A.M. used to hold the ceremony on Halloween, but it drew too much attention to the solemn event. Now the S.A.M. selects a secret date in November to pay respects to their "Most Illustrious" president...and that day was yesterday.
Houdini was president of the S.A.M. from 1917 until his death in 1926. He was actually reelected for another term, hence the seal on his gave notes his tenure as ending in 1927, which can cause puzzlement. The regular practice of breaking a wand in honor of a deceased magician began at Houdini's funeral. While the ceremony is typically performed only once, Houdini has been honored with a formal wand breaking ceremony every year since 1969.
Thanks to attendees Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz of the Houdini Museum in Scranton for letting me know about this. Dorothy and Dick (along with Steve Moore) recently restored the bust on Houdini's grave, so this was the first time in many years that the S.A.M. didn't have to bring their own. Because of repeated vandalism, the surviving Houdini bust is kept secure by the S.A.M. and was only placed back on his grave for the annual wand breaking ceremony.