Clowning under the big top in Bangor

Posted April 30, 2013, at 5:32 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Using his camper parked in the lot of the Bangor Auditorium as his dressing room, Donald Young transformed himself from a regular guy sporting khaki shorts and a T-shirt into a red-nosed, yellow-haired, brightly clad clown known as “Bo-Bo.”

Young, who has been clowning since 1986, spent his weekend participating in the 2013 Anah Shrine Circus.

“I’m a very social person and get a lot of satisfaction out of working with not only kids, but the elderly and handicapped as well,” said Young.

Bo-Bo is an Auguste clown, which means “the fool,” or as Young describes, “the one that gets the pie in the face.” He chose that style of clown because he says he always has been kind of foolish.

There are three other types of clowns: the character clown, the hobo and the white-faced clown.

According to Young, the Bangor Anah Shriners’ clown unit is the busiest in the Shriners and a very close unit. There are approximately 40 clowns from the Bangor area and about 40 more from the Presque Isle area.

The clowns that bring smiles to the faces of thousands are not just playing their parts when they are front and center. Even behind the scenes, they are joking around with each other and with the other circus acts.

“You act totally different than you do in real life,” said Young.

“It gives people a break from all the realities of the world,” said circus director Charles Grindle, who is also “Chuckles” the clown. “It’s a whole other world and is very satisfying.”

But what’s the best part of clowning?

“You’re No. 1 to the kids when you’re a clown,” said Young.