I Love a Parade!


– Dean Cotton, WCA Ministry Director

Participating in a parade may seem like an unusual subject for a ‘ministry clowning’ article. At the beginning of a new year I think it is important to remember the definition of ministry. Mr. Webster defines it as “a thing through which something is accomplished.” As clowns, we need to remember that our main purpose is to use the ‘thing’ – clowning – to share the gift of laughter with each and every person, young or old, who crosses our path. And through laughter, we earn the right to share our specific message, whether that message is a smile, a healing laugh in a difficult situation, teaching important life lessons, or sharing the simple thought that God loves you. Clowning is a powerful ministry for every person who takes on an alternate personality through makeup and costuming. With this in mind, here’s how DeanO and friends ministered in a parade!

DeanO and four other clowns in our troupe enjoyed the privilege of clowning in a college bowl game parade in downtown Atlanta, Georgia a few days ago. This was our 10th year to participate in this event and it is fun because of the large crowd of folks watching the parade in anticipation of the big game.

I don’t know if you are an experienced pro when it comes to parades or if you have only thought about clowning in a parade. Either way, here are some points to ponder:

– As a clown we need to entertain, engage and bring smiles and laughter to those watching the parade. Waiving from a parade vehicle or walking and waving to the crowd is not what a clown should be doing. For this parade we had two clowns engaging the crowd and drawing attention (one with a 20 foot rainbow silk on a long pole and another (me) juggling). And we had three clowns with funny parade gags.

– Your prop should be well made and have a quality look to it, light enough to be carried for the parade route, easily reset (or better yet, self-resetting or not needing to be reset), and large and very visual. You may not always have opportunity to speak to the crowd (and those in the back can’t hear you over the marching band), so your gag needs to be understood when people look at it.

– Are you in physical shape so that you can walk in the parade, at a marching band pace, keep up your clown energy, and not be dragging by the end? You may want to do some extra walking and exercise in the days leading up to the parade. Some parade routes are several miles and not on level streets. I started this parade juggling and playing my kazoo. I soon found myself out of breath and put the kazoo in my pocket… I guess I better add more exercise time in my schedule in 2017!

The summer parade season is fast approaching. I encourage you to get out there and have some fun clowning around in the parades in your home town.

Keep Smiling,

Dean