Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clowning around Not Just for Kids Anymore; Convention Wraps Up with Good, Clean Fun

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clowning around Not Just for Kids Anymore; Convention Wraps Up with Good, Clean Fun

Article excerpt

Byline: Jessie-Lynne Kerr, Times-Union staff writer

They insist they are more than just birthday party entertainment.

Clowning requires the imagination, skill and artistry that adults --as well as children -- will enjoy, they said. And they showed that to several hundred Jacksonville residents yesterday.

The World Clown Association wrapped up its convention in Jacksonville yesterday with a parade from the Radisson Riverwalk Hotel to Friendship Fountain park.

At the park, more than 200 clowns entertained and did free face-painting.

It was a good break from worries about the war in Iraq for Sam Batteh of Jacksonville and his family -- wife Ghada, daughter Samantha, 6, and son Fuad, 4.

With his family's roots in Palestinian Ramallah, on Israel's West Bank, Batteh said he has spent much time watching war news in recent days.

"This is a good break for us in these trying times," Batteh said. Ghada has an aunt who lives in Kuwait City and caused them great worry.

"We finally were able to get through to her yesterday on a cell phone," Ghada said. "The land-line phones weren't working. She said she is fine, but everything there is tense."

Fuad snacked on cotton candy while waiting in line to have his face painted. Samantha said she was having a good time, except for the loud booms from the cannon on the Fernandina Pirates Club parade float.

The convention, which included educational sessions essential to clowning, was a success, said Vicki "Hi Heels" Smith and Laureen "Sweet Cheeks" Halliday of Gator Clowns, the club that hosted the convention. Because of the war, attendance by international members was down, they said. Members came from 11 countries, down from the usual 23, they said.

One of those, Arthur Pedlar of Southport, England, was elected president of the association for 2003-04. Retired from the art and furniture business, Pedlar has been a clown for 50 years and has several clown personas.

"So many people give up clowns when they leave childhood," Pedlar said. "But we always need clowning, no matter our age."

The Jacksonville convention saw some superb examples of clowning, Pedlar said, including an adult cabaret routine "as clean as a whistle. …

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