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Sad clowns give town a miss

CLOWNS will be missing from Bognor Regis this year.


Clowns International has reluctantly decided to scrap its party in the park for 2018.


The organisation was unable to secure a date this month to stage the fun-filled escapades in Hotham Park and has decided to meet in private elsewhere this year.


Bubblz, one of the clowns heavily involved in the international clown festival of the past two years, said: “We are sad that we are not coming to Bognor Regis this year. I think all our members would want to go back there.


“We asked to come to Hotham Park this month but it is booked for another event. Unfortunately, our event is not going to happen at all. We are now asking our members to find out what they want to do for next year.


“I love Bognor Regis and I started coming to the town with the clowns in 2006. But we have to come to Hotham Park. It’s a ‘no go’ without the park.”


A small number of clowns were going to visit Bognor Regis this month for a private training weekend but they will going to the trainer in Ireland instead.


Clowns’ International began to stage an annual event in Bognor Regis in 1985. The event grew in popularity and size each March and peaked in 1989 when it was the main event for clowns around the world.


Hundreds poured into Bognor Regis and delighted residents with their antics around the town centre as well as at a series of shows in and around the Regis Centre. These always followed several days of workshops and meetings to allow the clowns to gain new skills.


Famous names such as the late Ken Dodd and Jeremy Beadle headlined the event and helped to attract the crowds of spectators.


The event attracted backing from the EU one year. But the costs began to escalate and Arun District Council, which had been heavily involved since the beginning, withdrew its backing.


Bognor Regis Town Council took over for a few years to enable the event to reach its tenth anniversary in the mid-1990s before it also cut back.


The event was revived in the early years of this century with the help of Butlin’s and continued for several years with a combination of activities in the holiday resort and around the town.


A short gap ended with the party in the park launched in 2016.


Some 30 clowns turned up in the first year for a parade and a picnic in the open space and about the same number from England, Denmark, the USA, Ireland and Scotland went along last year.


Several hundred people of all ages joined in the fun with them for a fun-filled afternoon.


“I’m committed to coming back to Bognor Regis,” said Bubblz. “I love the town and the event has worked very well in Hotham Park.


“It’s a suitable safe place for a parade and a picnic afterwards. That’s why we need the park.


“But we also need to know if Barry and Jenny Jones will let us use the Jeneses Arts Centre again. We don’t want to take them for granted.”


Mr and Mrs Jones have allowed the clowns to use their centre for free in the past two years.

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