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Thousands Wave to Buried Magician

April 12, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ While most New Yorkers don’t know magician David Blaine from a hole in the ground, it hasn’t stopped them from coming in droves to see him there _ in a hole in the ground.

For nearly a week, thousands of people have waved, gawked, gasped and stared at Blaine, who is buried alive 6 feet underground in a Plexiglas coffin with a 3-ton water-filled tank placed on top.

Blaine’s seven days beneath the sidewalks of New York was expected to end this morning. He’s spent the week in close quarters, with only about 6 inches of head room and 2 inches on each side.

It’s all part of a stunt by the magician, whose hero Harry Houdini planned a similar feat, but died in 1926 before he got a chance to perform it.

Spokesman Pat Smith said Blaine will return ``hopefully ... in good condition.″ But he might be ``wobbling on his legs or lightheaded.″

The ``reaction has been phenomenal,″ said Smith, who estimated that some 75,000 people have visited the site on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

``I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Being confined to such a small space,″ said Tavia Trusch, 42, a dance teacher from Queens who was back Sunday for a second visit with her 3-year-old son.

``We waved and gave thumbs up,″ to offer encouragement, she said.

Mayra Berlanga, a 25-year-old paralegal from Queens has been coming every morning to show ``support.″ She is there by 7 a.m. to give the 25-year-old magician a familiar face to wake up to.

``I feel there is a connection,″ she said.

But how does her husband feel about her getting up early to look at another man? ``I give him support also,″ said her husband, Carlos, who was at the site Sunday with his wife.

The couple was part of a long line of visitors snaking their way past Blaine’s buried coffin Sunday afternoon despite a light rain and cool temperatures. Some were carrying signs saying, ``We love you David.″ Others brought their children, pets and a camera.

A shirtless Blaine, covered by a white blanket, appeared in good spirits, smiling, waving and giving thumbs up.

Rosa Corporan, a 20-year-old cashier went back in line to get a second look and a picture. ``He’s a handsome guy,″ she explained.

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