Ken Gillespie, best known as "Dizzy the Clown," has been a clown for many years. He's a volunteer clown for the Shriners and also a contract clown, or a clown who gets paid for his work.
The Minot man now is a finalist in the competition for International Shrine Clown Association's Clown of the Year for 2008.
"This in itself is a great tribute to your dedication to Shrine Clowning and the ISCA Sneaker Fund," said Larry "Foooey" Stringer of Arnold, Mo., chairman of the Clown of the Year Committee.
Submitted Photo •
“Dizzy the Clown” (Ken Gillespie) does a rope trick. Gillespie, of Minot, is a finalist for International Shrine Clown Association’s Clown of the Year for 2008. Gillespie will attend the award banquet in Atlanta Feb. 21 when the recipient will be announced.
The Sneaker Fund is a fundraising activity for Shriners Hospitals for children's burn research.
The ISCA Clown of the Year will be announced at the ISCA Mid-Winter Award Banquet in Atlanta Feb. 21. Gillespie and his wife, Claudia, will be attending the event. Gillespie and other finalists will be presented a finalist award at the banquet. The nominees for the ISCA Clown of the Year are nominated by their peers.
The ISCA Clown of the Year will also be featured on the cover of a future issue of "Clown Alley," Stringer said.
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At the event in Atlanta next month, Gillespie said he will also compete in the Clown Extraordinaire Division, a top division. He has been in the top five for the past three years but has not won yet, he said.
Gillespie has spent much of his life in Minot. He moved here with his family from Riverdale when he was a small child. His father, the late Kenneth Gillespie, was fire chief at Minot Air Force Base. The base fire department building is named in honor of his father.
Ken Gillespie's clowning started in 1974 with the Shriners in Kansas City, Kan. When Gillespie, his wife and their children returned to Minot in 1980 he continued his clown work. Claudia Gillespie also is a clown.
Ken Gillespie ran Kiddy Land in Minot's Roosevelt Park for a time and then managed Bump & Tilt, also in Minot.
He said he was surprised that he was nominated for the ISCA Clown of the Year award. He learned of his nomination this past July, he said.
Why is he a clown?
"For the children," said Gillespie. "We have children's hospitals, and for the Shriner Hospital he is the representative for the whole temple for the kids." The temple is in Grand Forks.
In Minot, he said there are about 200 Shriners and about 15 Shriners clowns.
The Shriners' clowns do extensive charity work, including working the Shrine Circus, which visits Minot each year.
Gillespie was nominated for the ISCA Clown of the Year award by Orren "Buttons" Anderson, Minot, and all the members of the Minot Merrymen unit of the Minot Shrine Club of Kem Temple.
"Ken is not a wealthy man but has traveled to Shriners Regional and National conventions more than he can afford. Ken lives to compete at all levels at every chance he can and has won numerous regional and national clown awards," the nomination letter said.
It goes on to say that Gillespie "is a great recruiter, motivator, teacher and mentor of new Shrine Clowns and is a leader in the North Dakota Clown Association." He has been the president of the World Clown Association and has brought their national convention to Minot. He is the current president of the N.D. Clown Association.
Gillespie also is a regularly published writer of articles in the Shrine Temple publication Burning Sands and in the ISCA magazine Clown Alley.
"I do not believe you could find a more deserving person to receive this award or one who would represent ISCA as well. Ken is truly a Shrine Clown who is a credit to his unit, his Shrine Club, Kem Temple, his community, his state and to the International Shrine Clowns Association," the nomination letter also said.