Parade Season is here!
If you are just getting started in the magical world of clowning, you are probably going to be in a parade very, very soon. I got my start in clowning with a parade. Parades are the most common “baptism by fire” for new clowns.
Consider being “pre-parade” entertainment:
This is what our clown club does. We don’t actually have an official numbered spot in the parade. It is too hard to keep up if you want to stop and play with the crowd. Instead, we contact the parade coordinators and ask be listed as “pre-parade”. We entertain the people waiting for the parade to start. The crowd is very appreciative of any kind of diversion!
Our club carpools and meets at a certain location. We discuss who is going to go where and do what, stretch, and then we hit the street about 45 minutes before the parade begins. As we visit with the people, the parade is catching up behind us, and that’s okay. Don’t feel rushed, go at your own pace. We set a time to meet back at our cars so no one gets left behind.
5 Reasons why new clowns love parades:
- No Rehearsal Required –
If you don’t have a schtick planned, you can simply walk the parade route, shake hands, wave, and pose for pictures. You don’t need to memorize a skit routine, you don’t have to practice blocking for a stage show, and there is no need to get the timing for a magic trick just right. If you do have a walk-around prop, you should have some patter prepared. Keep it simple. You don’t want to be carrying a big heavy prop around. A feather duster or tiny whisk broom can be a great parade prop. Tell the kids you are here to tidy things up before the parade starts.
But keep in mind that the beauty of clown humor is that it is improvised on the spot, crafted to pertain to that moment, that person. You can’t go wrong with a compliment! “My, what a pretty dress you have on! Those are such cute shoes! Can I borrow them?” I love to tease old men about how they spared no expense when taking their wives out on a date!
- Low Pressure –
Parade clowning is “hit-and-run” clowning at its best. You make a connection with the folks sitting along the parade, and you have fun. No one’s birthday will be ruined if you make a mistake. It’s not like the pressure of sitting in a booth and churning out a balloon or face-paint design one after another. There’s no paycheck riding on how well you perform in a parade. You are out there to make some memories with your clown alley. Take it easy, have fun, and go with the flow.
- Safe Environment for Failure –
You know what’s great about a parade? You get a thousand and one times to tell the same joke. Those 8 people in front of you may not have laughed, but 10 feet away is another 8 people who will. If your wording didn’t sound right in that last bit of patter, don’t worry — you can change it up and try out something different in a moment. So what if your prop didn’t work the way it was supposed to? In 4 minutes you’ll get another chance to try it in front of new people. Don’t get discouraged if you didn’t get the reaction you wanted. A parade offers the best way to try out new material. You can fail, and that is okay. Your audience changes with every step you take. And guess what? There’s a whole other side of the street, too!
It’s also a great place to try a new look. When I started playing with a new Auguste character, I tried it out at a Fourth of July parade first!
- Safety in Numbers –
Rarely is there one clown in a parade. Usually a clown club will come out en masse for a parade. When you are a new clown, it’s good to have a few seasoned pros by your side to help you out in a pinch. Having a gaggle of clowns around is like having a safety net; everyone is looking out for each other.
- Quick and Painless –
Most parades average 60 to 90 minutes for the audience. But for someone performing in the parade, it might only be 20 to 30 minutes. You get in, you get the laugh, and you get out. It’s a head-rush! Usually you will find that a parade is one of the quickest and most frenzied types of clowning you’ll experience in your clown unit. A clown friend told me that for one small-town parade, he actually spent more time putting on his makeup and costume than he was actually in the parade!
Sometimes a parade can be a lot of “hurry up and wait” moments, so be prepared for delays. I am kind of a stinker. When there is a big delay in a parade and you can’t see the next float coming around the corner I tell the crowd “Well, that’s the end, folks! Due to budget cuts the parade is shorter than usual.” No one believes me! LOL
One last thing:
Do your homework before you hit the street! To help you get started on the right foot, we have compiled all the Mooseburger blog articles about parades.
You don’t want to be in pain the next day, so follow these 7 STEPS FOR A PAIN-FREE PARADE!
Take a look at how to have the best parade EVER:
- 5 Ways to keep your clown make-up looking fresh
- You need to protect your feet, and your clown shoes!
- Planning ahead with your clown club
- A Kazoo Band is the perfect thing for a parade
- Walk-Around Prop Idea: iPod
- Walk-Around Prop Idea: Keep this ticket
- Walk-Around Prop Idea: Ring-a-ding-ding
- Walk-Around Prop Idea: Dozen freshly-picked noses
- Have kids join your clown club in the parade
- 4th of July Parade ideas for Clowns
- What to do if you have a clown emergency or accident
- Seven Ways to get ready for a parade
And just for the fun of it, we have 2 more stories about how parades are a magical and transforming experience:
Leave a comment below telling us why you love clowning in parades!
What is your favorite prop to use?
Any tips or suggestions for new clowns? Leave a note below!
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