"Illustrious compeers!" says magician Dal Sanders, his mic-amplified voice booming across a 21st floor meeting hall within the Renaissance Grand Hotel in downtown St. Louis.
Caroline Yoo Kendrick "ICE" McDonald, being inaugurated as the first black president in the Society of American Magicians's 112-year history.
"It is my duty to govern with mission and unity," he continues, "to expound the law, to obligate neophytes and to instruct in the mysteries. By the power invested in the presiding officer of the Society of American Magicians, I now declare open and ready for business this regular meeting of The Society."
"To the honor of our most illustrious," intones an audience of roughly 120 other magicians. Little has changed in the Masonic-style rituals of the Society of American Magicians since its founding in 1902, but this year's annual meeting, which happened to be held on Thursday in St. Louis, was very different: By the meeting's end Sanders passed the presidency of the Society to Kendrick "ICE" McDonald, the first African American to ever hold the post.