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FORT SMITH COUPLE CLOWN AROUND TO HELP CHILDREN

BY ALEX GOLDEN // Times Record

For “Paulie the Klown” and “Lady Clown,” being clowns is about having fun with kids. Husband and wife Paul and Paula Brosnan of Fort Smith are unrecognizable to some without their makeup, costumes or wigs. The two regularly “clown” at philanthropic or community events, such as the Mardi Gras Parade in Fort Smith last weekend.

“We started off basically clowning to raise money for Shriners Hospital to raise money for kids in the community,” Paul Brosnan said.

Shriners Hospital treats children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate.

Over the years, they have also clowned for Bikers Against Child Abuse’s Kids Day in the Park, Relay for Life, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade and for Fort Smith nonprofit Antioch for Youth and Family. One of their favorites is Super Kids at the Rodeo.

“It starts at 10 in the morning,” Paul Brosnan said of the rodeo parade. “At 9:45, they shut down the streets, so at 9:45 — Paulie and the Lady Clown — the street is ours. And basically, we walk in the middle of the street, talk to kids. … It's just being able to go out there and have fun with the kids and watch them enjoy it.”

Some of the Brosnans’ grandchildren have clowned with them, Paula Brosnan said.

“Paulie the Klown” made his debut in 2002 at an Alzheimer's Walk and has done it every year since.

“It actually became personal,” he said.

His mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2006.

“Lady Clown” came along in 2010.

The Brosnans pay for all their costumes and makeup. And Paul Brosnan has taken a course on clowning to learn about makeup, balloons and tricks.

There are three types of clowns — the “hobo clown,” “the goose clown” or “funny clown” and the “white-faced clown,” who has a more sophisticated costume.

“They have fun too, but they’re more serious,” Paul Brosnan said.

The two are regularly invited to community events and often run into people who know them as "Paulie the Klown" and "Lady Clown."

Antioch for Youth and Family founder Charolette Tidwell will call them and say, "Mr. Paul, I need my clowns," when she has an event, Paul Brosnan said.

The most fun part is having fun with the kids, Paula Brosnan said. They tend to want to touch her wig. Some recognize them by their eyes when they're not in costume.

“They come up and they tell me when they saw me or that they remember me,” Paul Brosnan said. “They’ll come up to talk to you, and it’s not just the children. It’s the adults.”