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The Joy of Clowning


Group reminds spectators that clowns bring smiles and laughs

(Photo Left) Dai Meeks a.k.a. ChaCha the clown, with young people from Attucks Elementary School, Kansas City, Missouri. Photo courtesy of Dai Meeks.

For their Annual Halloween Safe Corridor gathering, which took place on Tuesday, Oct. 31 at 1429 W. Girard Avenue, organizers were sure to specify on their event flier that, along with food, candy and a DJ, there would be “friendly clowns.”

From last year’s nationwide rash of scary clown sightings, to the popularity of Pennywise, the hit villain in this fall’s hit Stephen King horror film “It,” clown culture has lost some of its good-feeling association.

So, Dai Meeks and her fellow Bubbly Battle-Axe Clown Unit members do all they can to remind others of the joy of clowns dedicated to making others laugh and smile.

Even during a national convention in Kansas City, Missouri, the unit’s members stopped by the Attucks Elementary School to entertain the students as they gave them free bookbags.

“I just like being able to give back to the community,” Meeks says, mindful that clowns bring the joy of laughter.

Members of the Bubbly Battle-Axe Clown Unit are not professionally employed as clowns, but are volunteer committee members representing Pyramid Court #17, the female auxiliary of Prince Hall Shriners in Philadelphia. Pyramid Court #17 and Pyramid Temple No. 1 A.E.A.O.N.M.T. co-sponsored the Halloween Safe Corridor gathering.

Meeks says the clown unit has a mission “to enhance the festive mood of an event while bringing joy, laughter, and happiness to children and adults.”

It grew out of an effort in 2013, called “Clowning for a Cure,” when the Pyramid Court members dressed as clowns to cheer on people at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and other similar events. The inspiration came from the need to honor auxiliary member Kathryn M. Battle, a victims’ assistance officer for the Philadelphia Police Department’s Homicide Division, who died of breast cancer.

Though not professionals, the clown unit members do take their clowning seriously.

Meeks worked enough on her routine as ChaCha the Clown, complete with an outfit that lights up with musical notes, that she won “Best New Clown” at the female auxiliary’s national convention.

“Her thing is about dancing and music and getting people to have fun,” Meeks said of ChaCha’s character. Meeks says that she finds an outlet in being ChaCha.

“I’m really shy most of the time, but my friends will tell you, I’m upbeat and I like to party,” she says. “I think it’s my personality to get everybody up and doing something.”

During the day, 41-year-old Meeks, of Yeadon, works as a data manager and public adjuster, but on weekends, you may see her behind a layer of pancake make-up in a musically coordinated jump suit gleefully leading an audience through the “Cha-Cha Slide.”

 

The Joy of Clowning
Sheila Simmons - Contributor

Sheila Simmons brings many years of writing and communications experience to her work for Liberty City Press. She began her professional writing career at the Philadelphia Daily News, where she covered Business, City Hall and Education.

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