NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – With clown threats popping up across the country, one organization says those cases are having a real impact on their mission that uses clowns for good.
Officials with the Al Menah Shriners Group are worried about attendance for their upcoming circus in Nashville.
Randy Slapak, known as Sappy Clown, said he has been a clown since 2002 and it’s something he wanted to do since 1972.
He said his job as a clown is to make children smile, whether he’s performing at the circus, in a parade or visiting a hospital.
“Our job is to make the kids feel like they have no issues in the world,” he explained. “For a few minutes, we want that magic that the child will feel.”
Slapak said the recent clown chaos in the news has him concerned and even tearing up.
“It brings tears to my eyes. We are all about trust and caring and nurturing children. We are people of joy, we are people to help. It really breaks our heart,” he said. “If you’re a bad guy, you have absolutely no business putting on make-up.”
He also said the Shriners, which have been around since 1870, are worried about the recent fear around clowns will not only scare families away from their circus – which serves as an important fundraiser for their organization – but also hinder their mission.
“We are worried about attendance,” he said. “We are worried about funding. We are worried about being able to help children. We want our own clowns to be safe, too. Please bring your children to the circus and let them see the clowns.”
Slapak said the Al Menah Temple in Nashville has been opened since 1913. It’s currently located off Brick Church Pike and houses around 3,500 Shriners who all have a mission to help sick children.
“We have treated over 1,000 children through the Al Menah Temple,” he said.
There are 22 Shriners’ hospitals nationwide.
“We totally, totally have one philanthropy and that’s pediatric hospitals and we treat any child that we can help regardless of their family’s ability to pay,” Slapak said.