HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — Upstate New York resident John Hoey just happened to be visiting Atlantic City for a four-day vacation during the time when the Hamilton Mall held its first weekly competition of Hamilton Mall’s Got Talent on Thursday, July 25.

Hoey, a professional magician, has competed in the competition before without advancing to the finals. This time the outcome was quite different. He wowed the crowd by producing a variety of animals including two rabbits, a dozen or so baby chicks and a ball python seemingly out of nowhere. Then, in a comedic moment, he placed the snake around the neck of emcee Marialaina Catrambone.

“We are going to discuss my pay rate after this,” Catrambone joked. “He didn’t warn me that he was going to do this.”

Catrambone good-naturedly kept the snake around her neck as the awards were announced. “Is anyone else finding it hard to breath in here,” she quipped.

Hoey’s performance earned him the first-place prize of $250. Thirteen-year-old Kayla Donaruma, of Mount Royal, earned the second-place award of $150 for her performance of “All by Myself” while 11-year-old Kate Michel, of Northfield, took third place and earned $100 for performing “Since You’ve Been Gone”.

“We had a tremendous amount of talent here tonight,” producer Alex Glover of Center Stage Entertainment said.

All three are invited back to perform in the finals of the five-week competition Aug. 29, when the grand-prize winner will earn $1,500. The second-prize winner will take home $700 and the third-place recipient will earn $300.

The competition will take place each Thursday night at 6 p.m. until the top three from each weekly contest compete in the finals.

Anyone wishing to compete can register by logging on to HamiltonMallsGotTalent.com.

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