Stanley Baker is a system operator at Emera Maine.
For years now, he’s also been part of a special community.
Being a clown with the Shriner’s was a way for these guys to give back those in need.
“That was a big thing for me. Being able to help kids that were less fortunate and may need medical care, and can’t afford it. The Shriner’s was a natural fit,” said Baker.
It’s even helped in their own lives.
“Before I even joined any of this, I couldn’t even talk to three people without having to shake to death. Nowadays, it doesn’t matter to me whether it’s five, 5,000, 5,000,000, it doesn’t matter any more. I just think I’m in my clown uniform and away I go,” said Tom Vanchiere, who does security at Eastern Maine Medical Center.
The Anah Shrine clown-crew includes 27 regular clowns and two apprentices.
This hobby requires countless hours for appearances and they say they spend thousands of dollars a year on costumes, makeup, and travel costs, even yearly trips to clown college.
These guys say they get paid back in smiles.
“It’s amazing when you see the wonder in the eyes of a child, and a twinkled in the eyes of the aged. and it’s amazing to see what kind of an impact you’ve had, how the kids look up to you. It’s just amazing,” said Vanchiere.
In 2013, their unit gave back $10,000 to the Shrine to be donated to hospitals and other organizations.
They say it’s worth the two-hour prep time it typically takes to get ready.
They say for every clown there’s a moment in the transformation process when they become their character.
“For me, it’s when I put my wig on, because that’s one of the last things I do is put my wig and my hat on. I’m Papi the Clown, I’m no longer Stan Baker.”
They’re getting ready for KlownFest where Shrine clowns from all over the northeast will come to compete against each other.
“You go home on a happy high and it just makes your heart feel great. You enjoy what you’ve done and remember for days the people that laughed at you, or someone you made happy,” said Kerry Spofford, Spiffy the Clown and a salesman at Motion Industries.
“Make them smile. Make them laugh. Make them forget all the unpleasant things in their live. That’s basically what we’re here to do,” said Vanchiere.
KlownFest is a free event this Saturday.
It’s at the Bangor Mall from 10am to 3pm.