May 15, 2000
Clowning around are (left to right) Millie Buchanan, Becky Alke, and Barbara Petersen.
Staff photo by Becky Nixon.
by Deborah Stone, features writer
"Calling all clowns and clown-wannabes to come have fun and learn the craft of making people laugh" is the description for the Clowning Around class held at the Northshore Senior Center in Bothell every second Thursday morning.
Led by Barbara Petersen and Adrienne Everett, the class shares information about clowning, and provides lessons on make-up, costuming, juggling, and the art of creating balloon animals.
From four to six participants attend the class, and in the past year, they have marched in the Bothell Fourth of July parade, dressed up for the Woodinville Seniors Halloween party, sold raffle tickets at the Northshore Seniors Holiday Marketplace, and took part in the Lakeview Carnival. Two of the seniors, Petersen and Everett, even went to "Clown Camp '99" at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, for one week of fun and intense classes.
The club has been in existence for the about one and a half years and began with a demonstration given by professional clown Carol Johnson. Johnson, known as a caring clown who works in hospitals, came to the Senior Center to show interested seniors how to make balloon animals and talk about the art of clowning.
Petersen had always loved dressing in costume for Halloween and became intrigued by Johnson's demonstration, while attending a craft class in the adjacent space. She says, "I got so excited watching Carol that I decided to go across the room to learn more about what she was doing. It looked like so much fun, and then when I heard all about clowning and clown camp, I was really interested."
After attending Clown Camp last June, Petersen was hooked, and became known as "Barbo the Clown." For her, clowning is pure joy. "I love to do it, because it's so wonderful to make people smile and laugh," explains Petersen. "Watching their eyes light up makes me feel so good, and knowing that I have possibly helped someone to go from feeling sad or depressed to enjoying themselves is very satisfying. Clowning is a healthy helping activity and it can really make a difference in people's moods, outlooks, and attitudes."
Petersen made her own two-piece outfit of multi-colored circles, as well as her yellow wig, but says there are several local stores which sell clowning costumes and supplies.
The Clowning Around Club is currently discussing their future goals and participants hope to take their acts to various nursing and retirement homes. The club welcomes new members and the only qualification for joining is the desire to have fun. For more information, call the Northshore Senior Center at 487-2441.