Every year, 14-year-old Nadja Roberts and her sister, six-year-old Sophia Duguid, don colourful wigs, red noses and a face full of makeup as they prepare to lead the JCI Brantford Santa Claus Parade.
Along with dozens of Brant-area children and children-at-heart, the girls wave, joke around and act silly as part of the Rotary Club of Brantford’s Rotary Clowns for Kids fundraiser.
“It’s something I look forward to every year,” Roberts said. “I get to spend time with my family, I get to spend time with my friends and it’s an opportunity to do something local.”
Clowns for Kids is the Rotary Club of Brantford’s annual fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club of Brantford and Lansdowne Children’s Centre that sees community members collect donations and become one of dozens of clowns that lead the annual parade.
“It means a lot to me (to be a clown) because I know I’m helping out people and I’m doing it with people I love while I get to do something crazy and silly and make people in the crowd laugh,” Roberts said.
Last year, Clowns for Kids raised $25,000 and hosted 75 children. This year, the Rotary Club has upped the ante with a $50,000 goal.
To help meet that goal, the cost to become a clown has dropped from $1,000 to $500 for individuals. That donation will get two people entrance into the parade – one adult and one child.
Corporate sponsors can pay $1,000 to have a representative from their company and two children take part in the parade.
“It’s a kids event, it’s a Santa Claus parade, why have adults in there only?” said Don Heys, chairman of the Rotary Clowns for Kids committee. “The whole idea is for (parents) to raise some money and have kids in the parade.”
Roberts and Duguid’s parents, Laura and Lucas Duguid, have joined their daughters in the parade every year as a way to spend time with their family while doing good for the community.
“It’s an opportunity to have fun,” Laura said. “We aren’t just sitting on the sidelines watching. We are raising funds for the Boys and Girls Club and Lansdowne.
“It takes so little effort to just get out there and do something that really matters. All you have to do is get dressed up and have fun for one night.”
Participants spend the afternoon before the parade at Central Presbyterian Church having their makeup done, getting into costume and eating pizza before heading out to the parade route.
Once the parade starts, the clowns lead the parade, paving the way for Santa’s arrival.
“It’s a pretty fun time,” Roberts said. “It’s goofy because everyone is looking at you, but people seem to get a kick of out seeing you walk around as a clown. After five minutes, you’re loving it and everyone is going crazy and it’s super fun.”
For more information about how you and your family can take part in Clowns for Kids, call 519-753-4317.