Kids Clowning in Parades
Parades are a great way to introduce kids to clowning. In fact, that’s how I got started! The clowning bug bit me when I got volunteered to clown in a 4th of July parade back in 1980.
Little did I know that saying yes to something so crazy would change my life. Before I knew it I was applying to Ringling’s Clown College, spending a summer on tour in California clowning at fairs and festivals, then on to a career with Ringling Bros. Circus, Disneyland, and my own costume business and clown camp. Whew!
Where will a parade take you?
CLOWN LINGO: Clowns younger than 18 are usually called “Junior Joeys”.
Bringing kids along to clown around with you at parades is a great way to spend time with family. Nothing is cuter than a kiddo in a clown costume and make-up. Here are a few tips to keep it fun!
And we suggest that you request to be “pre-parade” entertainment — CLICK HERE to find out more about that!
CLOWN MAKE-UP FOR KIDS
Because I like to keep things simple with children, let’s talk about make-up.
Some folks get too serious when it comes to kids and clowning. A well-meaning parent or club member can demand that children be held to competition standards. That’s not necessary.
I regularly talk people out of putting their kids in full whiteface. First, it takes too long to put on.
Second, it takes too much effort to get all the white off of their little faces.
Take a look at the kids in The Clown Arounds. CUTE! Plus their parents can clean them up quickly with a wet wipe.
>> CLICK HERE for tips on keeping your make-up cool in the summer heat!
PROPS and BITS
We had a grand time. I like low stress events. I put make-up on almost everyone and used costumes from my rental shop. You can start your own collection by saving your own old clown costumes in a tote. They come in handy for last minute clowns.
Two of the children had performed with me before. The rest were last minute volunteers and their parents. (I can talk people into just about anything!)
So what was an easy parade bit for these first-timers?
ANSWER: “Bubble Baths”
I purchased bottles of bubbles at the dollar store. We printed colorful signs on the computer that said “Free Bubble Baths”. I slipped them in clear page protectors and pinned the signs to the back of the clowns. We went along giving free bubble baths to folks on the parade route.
It was a breeze for the kids to come up with funny things to say to go along with blowing their bubbles. “Hey it’s Saturday night — time for your bubble bath!” We blew the bubbles and let folks pretend to scrub up and get “Squeaky Clean!” Sometimes I would spin around with my bubble wand and say “Look — I’m a Jacuzzi!” That was always good for a laugh.
Looking for more ideas for Props? Check out these articles.
>> CLICK HERE to find out about the awesome PROP SHOP Terry Ricketts has at Mooseburger Clown Camp!
EASY DOES IT
The “Bubble Bath” idea was cheap, quick, and did not require any practice beforehand. That is something to keep in mind with a person’s first parade.
Go easy on them and let them enjoy it without having to worry about memorizing a routine or how to work a complicated prop. If they get hooked on clowning (and they probably will), there will be plenty of opportunities to work with them on developing their own walk-around for the next parade.
You will want to immerse them in the full clown experience, but resist the urge. You don’t want them in over their head; instead, just dip a toe in first.
These people who joined me for the Saturday evening parade had never dreamed of clowning at all, let alone with their kids. When it was all said and done they had a great time and the crowd loved us! Their response was “We had a ball as a family and it didn’t cost us anything!”
If you are looking for more ideas for parades, consider coming to Mooseburger Clown Camp. We have at least 20 hours of instruction pertaining to parade-related skills: making props, using props, juggling, pocket magic, parade planning, walk-around bits, clown dancing, paradability competition, and more!
>> CLICK HERE to find out more about our clown school in Minnesota
GETTING THE WORD OUT
How do you advertise to let families know about joining your club for a parade? You can’t beat Facebook of course but there are other options as well.
You could work with your local community education office for a one-time summer “class” for free. Put an announcement in your school bulletin or take-home envelopes. Ask a local daycare if a clown could visit and then hand out the invitations to the parents.
Offering something free like this would not only be a good deed for your clown club and help shine a positive light on clowns in general, but it might also lead to increasing your membership. Junior Joeys bring a lot of life to your average clown meeting. It’s a win-win situation!
Our group also had a Grandpa and his two grand-kids. Their mother followed along with a camera to capture the moment. Next year she wants to join in the fun!
Having your own paparazzi is a great idea! They do not have to be in costume; just a friend, parent, or volunteer who might not be ready to jump into the act. They can feel a part of the group by wearing one of these neat “CLOWN: PLAIN CLOTHES DIVISION” badges!
Remember to share your pictures and your experiences with each other after the event. Take advantage of those online photo websites where you can put together a photo album that everyone in your group can look at online.
SOME THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
It is always nice to have someone along as an “Clown Plain Clothes Division”, especially with kids in tow. That way you have an extra set of eyes to keep everyone safe and together.
These “undercover clowns” work out best if it is someone who is hesitant about performing and would rather just wave to the crowd from the middle of the street.
They can pull a wagon with everyone’s’ wallets, cell phones, water bottles, sun screen, and extra bottles of bubbles in case of a spill.
>> CLICK HERE for a list of practical tips to make your parade pain-free!
Looking for even more parade advice? Check out these articles.
We ordered pizza at the end of the parade route and it was just coming out of the oven as we arrived back in our hometown. Perfect timing! I like having a little party after our parades. It gives us a chance to share our experiences of our performance with each other.
Clowning should be fun. Sometimes we lose sight of this. You’re making memories that will last a lifetime.
As a 30-year veteran of performing and teaching clown arts, I get my batteries charged by these outings with volunteers and kids. It brings me back to my roots and lets me see the joy in the faces of others who are putting on the fool’s cap for the first time.
It is a good life.
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Mooseburger Clown Arts Education has been running one of the world’s most well-rounded clown schools since 1996. Performers from all over the globe travel to Minnesota each summer for a fun and intensive clown training program. Each aspect of our clown camp is designed to meet your needs and boost your confidence as an entertainer.
Whether you want to join the circus, visit nursing homes, run your own birthday party business, paint faces, or twist balloons, there is tailored clown training just for you at Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp.
Or call me toll-free to discuss your education and see if Mooseburger is the right fit for you: 800-973-6277