Nine clowns wearing full costumes instructed nine students about putting on makeup and doing skits at the Feb. 2 session of Clown College.
“Colorado Clowns put on a clown college once a year,” Molly “Skiddles” Kleeman, Englewood resident and chapter president, said. “Students sign up for a variety of reasons and we try to help them develop the clown persona they want to present. Some students want to be light and funny and others a little more serious. But we try to help them become the clown they want to be.”
This year's clown college started in early January and is being held in the basement of the First Presbyterian Church in Englewood.
On Feb. 2, this year's students lined the table applying their makeup. There was lots of permanently smiling makeup faces being applied but Stacy Gibbs of Westminster, was one of those who opted for a different look, choosing to don the costume and put on the proper hobo clown makeup.
“I love hobo clowns,” she said with a smile. “I still have a couple hobo clown dolls. I came to clown college to learn about creating the character. I think it is coming along well.”
Lorene “Banjo” Stadig was the main instructor for the program.
“The students come once a week for 10 weeks,” she said. “We teach them about applying makeup and a lot of the other things we do as clowns like putting on skits. At the end of the class, the students come in full costume and show us all the things they learned at our clown college. We have a graduation ceremony and our graduates join us as we take part in the St. Patrick's Day Parade.”
Tammy Lichvar, a Littleton resident, said she came to clown college because she retired in October and she was looking for something to do to help people.
“My inspiration was my 5-year-old granddaughter who passed away two years ago,” she said as she applied her makeup. “She spent a lot of time in the hospital and she loved the clowns who visited there. I am learning to be a clown so I can visit children in the hospital.”
Lichvar said she is still trying to decide on the exact makeup she will adopt.
“Just when I think I have found the right makeup for me, I decide to make changes and try something else. Picking the right makeup is hard,” she said.
Looking ahead, she said she will wear a harlequin-style costume for graduation, and she is looking forward to being in parades and said she hopes to join Caring Clowns that visit the hospitals.
Longmont resident Kathy “Sanniann” Shook said there are two groups of Caring Clowns in the local area, one that visits Swedish Medical Center while she and some other clowns visit Longmont United Hospital.
“We make the visits to try to bring patients what they need to help them,” she said. “Some patients welcome entertainment but other patients just want someone to hold their hands and talk to them to help break the boredom.”
She said the clowns always get permission to make a visit and the clowns visit a patient for five minutes or less so not to tire the patient.
The group visits Swedish patients once a month and the Longmont group visit patients about three times a month.