Chase away those winter blues with the Giggles & Grins Clowns ‘Fun-shop’

By Amanda Crowe acrowe@civitasmedia.com

March 22, 2014

FAIRBORN — A Fairborn clown alley is hoping to boost the local clown population with their second annual Clown School.

Giggles & Grins Clown Alley invited anyone with an interest in clowning to their one-day “Fun-Shop” where students will learn the very basics of being a clown.

“Recent news articles have related the possible problem of a clown shortage in the USA, and we have the cure,” said Andrea Schott, also known as “Sparklelee the Clown,” who is currently the “boss clown” or president of Giggles & Grins. “We are here to give people the opportunity to learn a skill that brings much joy to others. Many of our clowns have gone on to visiting in nursing homes, hospitals and developing Christian church ministries.”

Giggles & Grins Clowns, is a social, not-for-profit organization that began in Fairborn 23 years ago and still meet there monthly. Their members come from throughout the Dayton area, from as far north as Sidney and south to Springboro and Reesville, to entertain for community events.

Over the years, they have provided free clown entertainment for many charities including the Alzheimer Walk, March of Dimes and many local church events. They are the official clowns of “A Special Wish” in the Dayton area. In Fairborn, they previously participated in Fairborn Community Library programs, the July 3rd Block Party, and they always appear in the Fourth of July parade.

“We welcome anyone from hobbyists to professionals,” said “At one time we had more than 60 members, but our numbers are dwindling as we age, and so this is why we started an annual clown school last year.”

A two-hour preview will held from 3-5 p.m. Sunday, April 6 at First Presbyterian Church, 110 Highview at North Broad Street. This is a free program to help the public learn a little about clowns before committing to the all-day class.

The preview is required for those who sign up for the Clown School Fun-Shop, which will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 12 at the church. Pre-registration is required by April 4.

Two of the instructors will be Donna and Ed Stephenson, also known as “Lulla Belle” and “Zilcho,” have been clowning around for more than 20 years and own the Clown-A-Mania business.

“The economy has fallen down on us a little. People can’t afford to hire entertainment for parties and things like they used to,” said Zilcho. “We want to infuse new blood in an old profession.”

Lulla Belle is a long-time member of Giggles & Grins who taught clowning at Wright State University’s Camp Discovery for 16 years.

“We teach them to use whatever talent they have to entertain,” she said. “Some people come in thinking they will get money quick, but we don’t want to give them that idea. It takes work, and you have to be involved, but it’s a lot of fun.”

This class will prepare the beginner student to start clowning at community and charity events. Students will learn basic makeup application, costume selection, walk-around tricks and balloon sculpture. Continuing education classes will be offered to students at four clown meetings this year to provide additional topics such as clown magic, hospital and ministry clowning, using puppets, juggling and face-painting.

Sparklelee, who helped with safety education for seven years at the Fairborn Fire Department, said she had horrible stage fright before becoming a clown.

“It is a big self-esteem booster. If you’re shy, it’s okay to make a mistake as a clown,” she said. “It’s not about what you do, it’s about that moment when you connect with someone and brighten their day. It takes time to develop your own clown personality and skills, but if you love it, that doesn’t matter.”

Classes are for those age 18 and older, through younger students will be considered when accompanied by an adult. There is a $65 fee for materials at the Fun-Shop. Lunch will be provided.

For information and to register call Andrea Schott at 937-613-8909 or email at funnbizzness3@roadrunner.com. Learn more about Giggles 7 Grins Clowns on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GigglesGrinsClownAlley.