Return of the clowns to Bognor Regis

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CLOWN Town will again be Bognor Regis.

The famous clowns’ convention is returning here this spring.

Generous residents Barry and Jenny Jones are organising a collection of dozens of the harlequins of humour on May 13-14.

Mrs Jones said: “We miss the clowns. Bognor needs the clowns. They call it their home. Barry and I wanted to see them back here.

“There was a great atmosphere when the clowns were here before. It was lovely to see the smiling faces of the adults and children watching.”

The couple have joined with Clowns International to arrange the event.

Bubbles, one of the 40-plus clowns expected to attend, said: “We do refer to Bognor as our home. It’s the one place we keep coming back to and Bognor keeps asking us back.

“We would like to make this an annual event. So, it’s a case of when we are going to Bognor rather than if.”

It has been three years since the clowns paraded through Bognor. A total of 100 of the funny folk – 23 from overseas – attended the weekend and parade.

That final procession marked the end of a joint venture between the town council and Butlin’s which began in 2006.

The partnership’s launch came after a 12-year absence following the end of the clown conventions which made Bognor the clowning capital of the world.

Started in 1985, the event quickly became a favourite. The breakthrough came in 1991 when the International Clowns’ Convention was held here for the first time outside the USA.

There were 1,000 clowns from around the globe. The last convention might have been smaller but many of those who attended were regulars fond of Bognor. They expressed their hopes for a return.

Victoria Drive residents Mr and Mrs Jones have ensured that is the case.

They have given Clowns International the use of their Jeneses Arts Centre in Linden Road for private workshops on May 12 before morning and afternoon circus shows on May 13, followed by a gala show in the evening.

May 14 will see the clowns hold a circus service at the centre followed by a parade through Hotham Park, with help from its heritage trust, at 2pm with a potentially chaotic picnic afterwards.

It is hoped event founder Hal Brooks will be present.

Clowns’ International press officer Rainbow said: “We are hoping to have at least 30-40 clowns here. It’s a case of getting the word out to the clowns. In the old days, everyone knew to come to Bognor every spring.”

As well as the clowns, Mr and Mrs Jones have led the International Bognor Birdman since 2003. They also run Jeneses and donated a former pub as the town’s museum. Both have been awarded the OBE for their services to the community.

n The clowns would like offers of B&B to Clown Bluey on 02380 869076.

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