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Clowns Come to McNair

Students in the upper grades of McNair Elementary School had a special surprise visit from the clowns of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Brought to the school through its Cox Communications business partnerships, six of the seven clowns came in full circus dress ready to answer questions and entertain.

The one clown out of costume came prepared to apply his makeup in front of the students so they could see the process of "becoming a clown."

As he was applying his "face" another clown explained what he was doing while also giving the history of the clowns on stage and how they became involved in the circus.

Of the seven, four of the clowns were from Hungary originally and went to clown college in their native country.

One of the Hungarians had grown up with the circus — his father was a juggler — and began in the 1960s. In addition, he went to clown college for seven years in Budapest.

Another one of the Hungarians first began as an acrobat with the circus and then became a clown — although he still performs some acrobatics as a clown.

Through the course of the one-hour assembly the clowns went on to answer questions that ranged from what skills each of them excelled at to how much they get paid for their work.

"We get enough money to do what we love and still save some," was the overall answer.

After answering questions the clowns went into their routines, throwing hats, juggling silver bowling pins, riding unicycles and running around the gym chasing each other.

The routine, which seemed to generate the most screams from the students, was the acrobatics of the one Hungarian acrobat turned clown.

After throwing himself in a sideways flip over one student and the shortest clown of the group, the acrobatic clown then increased his hurdle to eventually total five people — which he cleared easily.

In addition to demonstrating to students how to fall successfully without getting hurt, the clowns also pulled faculty members from the crowd to make the assembly interactive.

By the end, every student present was given a gift bag from Cox Communications, which had momentos of the event along with a discount ticket to "The Greatest Show On Earth" while in town at George Mason University.