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Learn the art of clowning around
Students will have a chance to learn ethics, makeup, balloon sculpting, face painting, caricatures, parading, ventriloquism, magic, skits, juggling, gags, jokes, storytelling and reading a story.
They can also learn the tools of the trade, such as playing the ukulele, harmonica, kazoo, puppets and other equipment.
Do you like to clown around? Here's a chance to learn the art with local clowns who use their skills to lift people's spirits.
Clowns of Yuma, World Clown Alley No. 222, will start a new school for aspiring clowns on Saturday. A few spots are still available, according to Beverly “Pinkie” Champers, vice president of the local alley.
Classes will be held Saturdays from 1-3 p.m. at Community Christian Church, Highway 95 and Araby Road.
Graduation is set for March 2, when students dressed in full clown regalia will receive a certificate and pose for an official class photo.
The cost is $20 for the lesson book. Graduates are not required to join the World Clown Alley national organization but are encouraged to do so. The membership fee is $30.
“We're doing things a little different this year,” said Champers, the lead instructor.
After learning about the history and characteristics of clowns, students will choose what they want to focus on next, such as balloon sculpting, face painting or juggling.
Some of these lessons might incur additional costs, such as buying face-painting supplies and balloon pumps.
Graduates are also asked to participate in community activities designed to bring a smile to people's faces. “Clowns bring joy and laughter into other people's hearts,” Champers noted.
Students will be invited to test their new skills at a Friends of the Library kids program at the Foothills Library on Jan. 26. Called “Clowning Around,” kids will dress as circus animals and participating clowns will make balloon sculptures and paint faces.
Another big project for the local alley is Caring Clowns and the Laugh-Mobile escort, in which local clowns visit Yuma Regional Medical Center as well as retirement homes and assisted living facilities.
“We try to momentarily take (patients') minds off their pain,” Champers said, noting that participating clowns must undergo special training in order to volunteer in this project at the hospital.
“We have a lot of fun, neat activities,” Champers said.
Local clowns also participate in the Christmas Village event and parades, such as the Dorothy Young Memorial Electric Light Parade, named after one of the founders of the Yuma clown alley. (Local groups are called “alleys” because back in the early days, circus owners typically relegated clowns to the alleys, instead of dressing rooms.
Members also take part in MCAS Family Day and John Howell Memorial Special Needs River Cruise for children.
For more information, call alley president Joe “Bubblie Babs” Hyder at 305-0123 or Champers at 1-360-244-1811.
Mara Knaub can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.