The History of Clown Alley #166
It all started on October 4, 1982, with 10 Charter Members, with Lillian “Flopsey” Martin, becoming our Official Clown Mother of the Alley. In December of 1982, the group began work on Alley’s by-laws and was officially named Cheerful Clown Alley, which was submitted by Patsy “Cookie” Fuller in a contest to name the Alley. There were some interesting names submitted – Love & Laughter Alley, Share A Smile Alley, Lone Star Alley, Clowns on Call Alley, Happy Alley, Loving & Caring Alley, and Cheerful Clown Alley. On July 24, 1983 Clowns of America (COA) accepted our charter and we officially became Cheerful Clown Alley #166.
Since 1982, Cheerful has hosted 29 Clown School classes, and also many “educational headliner” Clown Workshops. Cheerful has also hosted over 6 major conventions (TCA & COAI) here in Houston.
In October 1984, the Clown Alley newsletter was first published and mailed to 32 clowns. In December 1984, a “Name the Newsletter” contest was held, and the winning name “The Cheerful Chatter” was submitted by Patsy “Cookie” Fuller.
In October of 1987, The Kitchen Band performed for the first time at the Alley meeting with “Raindrop” as their fearless leader. Over the years many clowns have joined the band, to play their creative “kitchen” instruments where the clown members perform at various nursing homes and organizations.
The Cheerful Clown Alley was meeting at Oaks Presbyterian Church and then the meetings moved to St. Michaels in 1989 and to The Center in April of 1994.
Many outstanding clowns have earned several Awards for the Alley.
- In 1986 on Channel 13 TV, Flopsey was awarded the Jefferson Award, which is a very prestigious national honor that recognizes people across the United States that has performed great public services, without recognition.
- Since 1985, the TCA Ambassador Award (Texas State Clown Award) has been presented to nine Cheerful Clown Members.
- The Whispers Lifetime Achievement Award was named after Charlie Whispers McBride, who presented a proposal to the Board to create a perpetual fund on behalf of the Alley with the goal of the fund allowing them to be a self-sufficient organization. When Whispers died in 1991 he bequeathed his house to Cheerful Clown Alley and the proceeds from the sale of his home significantly funded the Perpetual Fund.
- Other Cheerful Awards presented each year are the Top Gigger and Clowning from the Heart.
In 1999, at the Clowns of America International Convention, Mauri Binkie Norris was presented with the Best of Press Award for her work on The Cheerful Chatter Newsletter.
- In April 2000, Sue Hot Dog Gortemiller has presented the Excellence in Clowning Award from COAI at the San Francisco Convention for her many hours of volunteer service. In April 2006, The Excellence in Clowning Award was presented to Lisa Twinkles Ezell and Becky Skeeter Deltenre.
- In May of 1995, the Cheerful Clown Alley Clown School book was reworked by COAI and then released to other alleys to purchase for educational purposes.
In the year 2000, many things happened, several members got bored with the traditional birthday song, so they created our upbeat CCA birthday song, the Cheerful website, www.cheerfulclowns.com was launched and Alley business cards were presented to the members to promote our clown organization.
In March 2002, guidelines were set up for the Board to avoid duplication of clown names in the Alley. Cheerful Clowns celebrated 20 years in October as an Alley with a Party held at Houston Hobby Marriott Center.
In August 2003, a new board position, Membership Director was created and the Email Committee was organized to create guidelines for using the Email format to update our CCA members. Also during this year, it was announced that many Hospitals, Charities, and Ronald McDonald House were requiring background checks on all volunteers attending their functions.
In December 2004, a new Clown Alley “Funny Bones” Alley was created in Beaumont. The group asks the Cheerful Clown Alley to be their mentors in lending their support and wisdom to help this new alley develop and grow. Several CCA members traveled to Beaumont for the new alley’s monthly meetings to assist with programs and clown training.
At the 2005 February Alley meeting, it was fun to honor a Charter Member, our very own– Flopsey for her Birthday. The Alley Birthday song debuted at the July 1998 Alley meeting. This upbeat rendition was created by Linda “Roly Poly” Green. Also in 2005, the Alley switched to Non-profit postage for the mailing of The Chatter Newsletter.
March 2005, as noted in the CCA minutes, due to the Insurance requirements of the Alley, All clowns attending a Cheerful Alley gig/event must have a current membership card. No family or friends or other guests will be allowed to participate in alley gigs because of this requirement. You must also have your membership card to cast your vote at any alley elections.
After nearly two years of planning and work, in September 2005, the members of Cheerful Clown Alley worked quickly to cancel the Texas Clown Association Convention on opening day due to an unwanted visitor in Houston who was known as Hurricane Rita. It was in 2005 that the Red Nose Relief Program was introduced. It is a group formed by COAI to sponsor a committee to respond to disasters. www.rednoserelief.com.
Bob Mr. Sweetie Mathews agreed to be our “official photographer”, taking pictures of CCA clown students and alley members in clown to be used for the CCA website, COAI, and TCA promotions.
Cheerful Clown Alley hosted the 2007 Texas Clown Association Convention 2007 – using lots of the planning and ideas that were originally planned for the 2005 convention.
In 2008, Larry Hi-Lo and Joe Biscuit Holton were recognized for their article on hospital clowning which appeared in the Texas Children’s Hospital publication, THE WATCH.
In 2010 Cheerful Clown Alley hosted the COAI in Houston, “A Little Bit Country and Little Bit Rock n Roll” Clown Convention. What a great time that was had by all that came from near and far to attend the fun event.
In 2011, Cheerful members began to volunteer at The Center by organizing and packing cookies to support the Center’s fundraising project.
In 2012, Cheerful Clown Alley decided to “GO GREEN.” Emailing our members via E-Flash (well wishes & gig sheets/updates) and then via E-News (upcoming events & other clown stuff). Next, our Cheerful Chatter newsletter appeared on our newly “revamped” alley website.
Alley History compiled by
Patti Patticake Gilbert, June Cricket Hinkle
and Mary Charmin Whipple