Everybody loves a clown

By John Pierre | Sep 22, 2011

Clowning is fun.  Anyone who has been a clown can tell you that there is nothing quite as gratifying as making small children happy.

I clowned in Seafair parades, five or six each year, for several years. 

The company I served close to 40 years had sprung for a street-legal 3/4 size 1901 Ford Surrey replica powered by a 12 horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine which was the center piece of our performance. 

We liked to think we were a hit in the many yearly parades in which we participated including one we did in Edmonds. 

Being the older one in the group it often fell to me, in my clown makeup, to drive the fun vehicle (loaded with various handouts) while several of our clowns worked the crowds lining the street and distributed inexpensive toys. 

All of us did this on our own time.  We were volunteers. 

I performed for a time with a young man, Steve Hawes, who was highly athletic. 

I'm including a photo of him in case the Beacon can find space to include it.  If space is not available, you'll likely be able to view it in my column at www.edmondsbeacon.com

He's the one standing beside the Surrey (makeup by yours truly).  He and I had developed a routine where I, driving our little car slowly, and pretending to be distracted, would approach him from the rear while he was bent over tying an imaginary shoe lace on his over size shoes. 

At the last moment I would hit the brake and lightly bump his rump.  He would do a sprawling tumble to the delight of the crowd.   

On a hot summer day, in costume, clowning is hard work but it's fun for everyone, performers and spectators alike. 

My biggest thrill came when I was clowning in a parade in the Greenwood district. 

Just by happenstance, I spotted my 4-year-old granddaughter (I didn't even know she was in town) in a large crowd of kids. 

I clown-walked over to her, picked her up and give her a big smooch. 

The kids around her began to clap and cheer.  She was embarrassed. 

She turned around, facing them with hands on hips, and sternly announced, "That's my Bampy!" 

She had dubbed me "Bampy" when she was first learning to speak ... and I loved it. 

All of my grandkids and great-grandkids to this day call me "Bampy" as do a few of my adult friends. 

Everyone should be a clown at least once in their lifetime. 

It's a great and memorable experience and adds a little bit of happiness to a world in which it's getting harder and harder to find.

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