Monday, April 16, 2012

Just Clowning Around

Lake Placid, Florida...the Town of Murals

Toby's First Clown Class

The mural is 60' wide by 15' high.  In 1980, Keith Stokes, aka Toby, started practicing the art of clowning at Lake Placid Hospital, where he went to entertain the patients and staff.  In 1982, his brand of Clown Medicine began to take hold and other hospitals started requesting his talent.  He was having health problems of his own and just couldn't handle the demand, and there were no other clowns in Highlands County.  In 1991, he decided he needed to teach the art of clowning.  This mural depicts his first clown school. There were 6 graduates of that first class.  His school grew rapidly and in 2010, over 1,500 clowns, ages 8 to 96, have graduated from his school.  With more and more graduates, Toby started Toby's Clown Alley, which is chartered with Clowns of America International.  The building where this mural appears is now the American Clown Museum, the only known one in the USA.

Toby's Clown School
This mural shows the 3 different clowns - Auguste (German), White Face (English) and Hobo (American).  There are 3 clowns who live in Lake Placid, a town which boasts more clowns per capita than any other town in Florida.  The mural is 7' wide by 13' high.

The Art of Clowning
This mural is 30' wide by 9' high.

The student clown has to decide which of the 3 types of clowns they will become.  Auguste, White Face, or Tramp/Hobo.  They get individualized attention in selecting their one-of-a-kind outfit, learn to apply their own makeup.  They also learn magic acts, balloon sculpting, puppetry and skits.  During the months of January through April, you will often find 5 or more clowns walking the streets to greet visitors to the murals.

One of the clown benches that can be found around town.
Another clown bench...I am not particularly crazy about clowns, but...
I was willing to sacrifice for the sake of the photograph!
Linking to Monday Murals.

24 comments:

VioletSky said...

I am not crazy for clowns, either. But those benches are really cool and I bet those hospital patients really appreciate the non-medical attention.

Andy said...

These photos and murals are fantastic. Clowns were always my favourite part of the circus.

Nancy Claeys said...

Not a big clown-fan here either, but this artwork is really amazing! Great to see you in the picture too, Linda! :)

onespoiledcat said...

Incredible artwork....it's nice that the clowns visit patients; sometimes a laugh is the VERY best medicine!

Pam (and Sam)

Jan n Jer said...

Awesome murals....Clowns are an important part of our culture here in the USA.

HOOTIN ANNI said...

I for one, LOVE clowns. Sorry....but I do.

I'm sure glad you decided to sit along side the clown on the bench...that is a mighty sweet photo.

HOOTIN ANNI said...

ps....love your spiritual Sunday post below this one also....it's been raining off and on here too. Another storm is moving in...I'm not complaining.

gtyyup said...

LOL...you have the look of "you touch me, I'll smack you!!" Great murals and the bench seats are a pretty cool idea.

Personally, I prefer rodeo clowns ;~)

TexWisGirl said...

isn't it funny how we have such an aversion to clowns? yet, they do have a real art/talent to them. beautiful murals.

PerthDailyPhoto said...

Oh you are brave Linda, clowns are SCARY, I know they're not meant to be..it's all Stephen King's fault haha!

La Principessa Errante said...

These murals are really spectacular. Love the small one with the three clowns. Wonderful story as well. Appreciate the history, and your sacrifice :-)

La Principessa Errante said...

These murals are really spectacular. Love the small one with the three clowns. Wonderful story as well. Appreciate the history, and your sacrifice :-)

ewok1993 said...

i gather so much cheer and happy vibes with these murals, must be the clowns :)

cieldequimper said...

Hey, these are fun! They must certainly make people smile!

Dianna said...

I never knew all that about clowns! I once knew a girl who was terrified of clowns, and passed up a sweet job opportunity because her would-be boss's office was decorated in a "clown motif".

RedPat said...

Fabulous! What a town that must be - so colourful.

Oakland Daily Photo said...

These murals are very well done. Toby must be proud of the success of his enterprise. And hospital patients around the country are the beneficiaries of his eforts. BTW, fear of clowns is called "coulrophobia." I'm not afraid of them but they do creep me out a little. The murals, however, are charming and tell an interesting story. Thanks for participating in this week's Monday Mural.

NixBlog said...

What wonderful murals these are, Linda, and you have captured them so well! I think the last photo of you and the clown is great!

Red said...

This would be a really cool place to visit. Awesome murals. Clowns. Awesome photos.

Ebie said...

Such a great guy, just like "Patch Adams".

The mural is so neat and well preserved!

Carletta said...

FUN pics!
I have always loved clowns.
I wasn't sure what I was having with my second child and the room had red carpet that we couldn't afford to change. I decorated the room in clowns. It was complete with a cross-stitched wall hanging that I did myself.
My daughter never said anything until she was almost a teenager - she hated clowns. :)

Pix at Under the Oaks said...

Linda nice to see your picture at the end of the post and I thought it was funny when you said you weren't crazy about clowns. Clown are not my favorite thing either. But I have enjoyed your captures of these murals!

Francisca said...

It's a heart-warming story about Toby and the murals are fun and well done. Yet isn't it interesting that so many of us here are not "clown" people? I didn't like them as a kid either.

Rita said...

I'm with Hootin Anni! I love clowns also. What a wonderful group of captures you have here.