LARGO - You don't need to plant flowers at Largo Central Park to add color to the landscape. Just bring in over 100 clowns from all over the state. That's exactly what the Uptown Clowns of Largo did on January 28. For the ninth straight year, Clown Alley #301 of Clowns of America International hosted Florida Clown Day in cooperation with the City of Largo Recreation, Parks & Arts Department. Splashes of bright red, blue, yellow and other vivid colors dotted the park as participants painted children's faces, made balloon animals, entertained with magic tricks, presented skits and handed out helium balloons--all for free. And that's what the annual celebration is all about--recognition of clowns for the many hours of volunteer entertaining they do for young and old alike.
"Tiny", otherwide known as Milly Myers, of the Uptown Clowns was answering questions at the registration booth while clowns "Boopie" (Beverly Hubric) and "Mit-Z" (Gerry Wise) registered newcomers to the event. A room was set aside for the clowns in the Largo Cultural Center, where vendors displayed the latest in clown supplies and accessories. The clowns also took their breaks there and were seen sharing their various talents. A clown from "The Villages" was spotted showing a member of the Clown Towners of New Port Richey a new "twist" in balloon sculpting. Across the room, other clowns were checking out costumes available for purchase and purchasing tickets for the opportunity drawing, proceeds of which go to Largo Outreach, a program for underprivileged children.
Jerry and Connie Yarbrough, who are known in the clown world as Yo Yo and Topsy, respectively, founded the Uptown Clowns in 1995 with five members. They held their first Florida Clown Day in 1998. There are some 20 clown schools across America where aspiring performers may learn the craft. Ohio, Illinois, California, Nevada, Wisconsin and New York are some of the states where they are located. There are two in Florida--one in Lake Placid, the other in Largo. The classes in Largo are taught by the Yarbroughs at the Largo Community Center, 65 Fourth St. NW. (For your information, there are also clown schools in England, Spain, France, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Japan and New Zealand)..
A new eight-week course is scheduled to begin at the Largo Community Center on February 11. All ages are welcome to take part. Instruction will include focus on makeup, costuming, juggling, painting faces and balloon sculpting. For details as to dates, times and fees, call 517-4244.
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