Partly Cloudy   79.0F  |  Forecast »

Mary Ellen the Clown Delights at Metro Detroit Kids Parties

Looking for some fun party entertainment? This veteran southeast Michigan performer offers a sweet, not-overwhelming approach for little ones.

Gentle goofball. For metro Detroit clown Mary Ellen Clark, that's been her calling card for 30-plus years – along with her poofy yellow wig, puppets and magic – at countless children's parties.

"It's so much a part of you. You forget you have it on," says Clark of her clown costume – which constantly gets her stopped for photos when she's out and about. "You become the center of attention. I don't mind it. It makes you feel good."

That's what clowning, for Clark, is all about.

All in the family

Fittingly, for this local laugh-maker, clowning began as a family affair. Clark, a singer, and her husband Gerald, an English major, immersed their three kids in the arts from a young age. "They were interested in puppetry, magic and they could sing in tune," Clark says.

The two parents had a unique home-school program for their children that quickly snowballed into a family show, complete with juggling and harmonicas. But one son was shy.

"So he wanted to dress up and look like a clown," Clark says. The shtick stuck. At first, only the kids and dad dressed up. But over time, "one by one, the different ones stopped being clowns," Clark says. By then, though, there was public demand. So, "I said, 'OK, I'll put the makeup on!'"

Always kind and welcoming

She's been at it ever since. Today, Clark's still delighting kids of all ages at birthday parties, business events, churches, conventions, RV rallies, family reunions – you name it. Don't forget the theme shows, often for library programs, which range from trains or Olympics to bugs or bunnies.

It's all delivered with her sweet touch. "I'm a non-intimidating clown, because I'm small and not loud," says Clark, who wears white face paint, a starched ruffle collar and bright, disarming colors.

Clark often uses puppets who are scared of the kids as silly ice breakers, for one thing. Other timid kids see "nothing's happening to those children who are participating," she explains. "Before you know it, they’re coming up (too). I find that's a good way to get them over whatever fear they had."

And the birthday boy or girl is the subject of her favorite harmless joke: At the end of the show, she presents them with a gift – "A picture of me!" she declares – along with some other little prizes in a baggy.

A proud, longtime Detroit resident, after all these years, it's obvious Clark still loves funny business.

"It does make you feel good when you come into a room and a little child will come over and give you a hug," she says. "You can't get a nicer feeling than that."

Add your comment:
Advertisement

More »Latest Articles & Blog Posts

Egg-Freezing Parties for Career Women Not Ready to be Moms

Egg-Freezing Parties for Career Women Not Ready to be Moms

Company EggBanxx just took fertility awareness to a new level, complete with cocktails and swank. Will the trend help? Will it stick? Or is this all a bit much?

AHA Arts Clear-Cling Stamps Are Fun for Paper Crafts

AHA Arts Clear-Cling Stamps Are Fun for Paper Crafts

For a creative, offbeat alternative to woodblock stamping, try these cool tools that add a great look to your DIY projects. Buy them here in southeast Michigan.

Craft Roundup: Small Projects to Make with Washi Tape, Confetti, More

Craft Roundup: Small Projects to Make with Washi Tape, Confetti, More

Tiny stuff is terrific! This roundup of DIY fun from various blogs shows you how to make matchbook notebooks, gift bags, stickers and bitty butterflies.

Frustrated Mom Creates App to Stop Teens from Ignoring Calls

Frustrated Mom Creates App to Stop Teens from Ignoring Calls

One mother got sick of her kids blowing off her phone calls, so she created an app to make it impossible. Stroke of genius – or an overstep of parental bounds?

Ice Cream Sandwich Recipes

Ice Cream Sandwich Recipes

Combine ice cream with cookies and you've got the perfect dessert combination. Whip up one of these cool treats with the kids!

Vintage Summer Pins Made from Old Belt Buckles

Vintage Summer Pins Made from Old Belt Buckles

A perfect summer craft, this DIY project is centered around used plastic accessories, which are cheap finds at garage sales and thrift stores.

Monroe County Teen Allegedly Fakes Abduction, May Face Felony Charges

Monroe County Teen Allegedly Fakes Abduction, May Face Felony Charges

Hayley Marie Turner, age 18, of Bedford Township reportedly went missing for 16 hours – but it turns out the entire thing was a hoax. What happened to the teen?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement