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CLOWNING AROUND BRINGS SMILES, GOOD CHEER TO SHRINER PATIENTS

One thing clowns hate to do is say no.

They put their makeup on and enter a different world, where kindness and voluntarism is the norm.Some famous clowns in history got so caught up in it that they never took their makeup off.

That's what Lucky said, anyway.

Lucky is one of about 25 local Shriner clowns who go to parades, parties and other events spreading good cheer as a volunteer - all the while raising money for Shriners and their charities, most notably the Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children in Salt Lake City's Avenues.

Lucky and several other clowns joined performers from this year's Shrine Circus, which played twice Friday and twice Saturday in the Salt Palace. They went to Shriners Hospital and Primary Children's Medical Center on Saturday morning to perform for patients there.

Trampoline artists "The Leos" jumped and clowned their way into children's hearts. "Tina and her Dobermans" frolicked before approving smiles. "The Mad Hatters" spent five minutes finding unique ways to catch hats on the top of their heads.

Tennille, 13, said simply, "It was neat." Does she appreciate the volunteers? "They're nice."

Like some of the 30 or so patients at the orthopedic hospital, Gloria, 18, stays for weeks at time waiting for her bones to improve. Like many patients, she speaks little English.

Did she like the circus? "Si." Does she like the volunteer care? "Si," she said with a smile.

Technological developments have fortunately allowed more people to be treated on an outpatient basis, said Shriner George Zambos.

The group is holding a free examination for potential orthopedic patients next Saturday, general chairman Bill Bayes said.

Watching the outdoor circus in the shady hospital parking lot, one Shriner said people with problems need only visit the children and look around. Then, he said, "you know how lucky you are."

Speaking of Lucky, the clown said he has danced and sung for the past 10 years so the children can walk.

What's his favorite gag?

Well, he said, he choked on some bacon and eggs Saturday morning, and, as gags go, that was a pretty good one.