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Press Releases

February 10, 2012

Circus Flora Launches Clowns on Call


Contact Phyllis Weiss or
Laura McCarthy
Musen Steinbach Weiss



Circus Flora Launches Clowns on Call in February

(ST. LOUIS /February 10, 2012) St. Louis' own Circus Flora presents a new program that brings the joy and fun of the circus to a population of children who must spend time in the hospital and who cannot make it to the big top on their own. Officially launching in February, the first two visits will be at Mercy Children's Hospital, 615 South New Ballas Road, in Creve Coeur at 10:30 a.m. on February 14, and at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, 1465 South Grand Blvd., in St. Louis at 1:30 p.m. on February15.

Aptly called Clowns on Call, the new community outreach program of Circus Flora connects professional entertainers to area hospitals bringing the circus arts of slapstick, juggling, magic, improvisation and music to enhance the healing environment. The program is a model of therapeutic clowning for those acutely and chronically ill. Through play and laughter and through carefully crafted entertainment, the children are brought to a happier, more secure place, ultimately more in control of their unfamiliar surroundings.

"Clowns on Call has been a dream of mine for years," said David Balding, artistic director, producer and founder of Circus Flora. Ever since I saw the ‘Clown Care' program established by Michael Christensen through the Big Apple Circus I wanted to set up a similar program in St. Louis. I watched his program grow. I saw what a program like this could accomplish for some of the most vulnerable youngsters."

Establishing Clowns on Call is the merger of two visions. One was the dream of Balding and the other of the Circus Flora board of directors that, in honor of the 25th Anniversary celebration of Circus Flora, sought a means for this non-profit circus to continue and extend its community service programming throughout the year.

The growing hospital troupe is directed by Claire Wedemeyer, Claire the Clown, a professional clown who has performed across the country with Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey circus, Kelly Miller Circus, at SeaWorld and at Lincoln Center in New York City. She also has performed her solo show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Navy Pier in Chicago and the City Museum in St. Louis.

Clowns on Call will increase number of visits, hospitals and performers as it grows. Wedemeyer says, "This is a program that has been more than a year in preparation. Everything we do will be geared to lightening the suffering and anxiety. What we do aims to change the focus of a child and family who are somewhere where they do not want to be. When we empower a child who may be in a wheel chair to spin a plate or balance a feather; or by giving a bed-ridden youngster a red clown nose, we make the child feel like the star of the show."

Information about Clowns on Call can be found on the Circus Flora website or call Kate Poss (314) 289-4043.

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