ATLANTA If a clown can ever sound a little disappointed, it may have been detectable in the voice Ken Gillespsie of Minot.
"I really wanted Clown Of The Year. A guy from Kansas City beat me," said Gillespie. "I guess I'll just have to keep trying."
Gillespie was calling from Atlanta where he attended the International Shrine Clown Association mid-winter awards banquet Saturday night. As Dizzy the Clown, he has brought joy to thousands and even focused national attention on Minot. Despite his runner-up status, the former president of the World Clown Association and current leader of the North Dakota Clown Association earned more placements in Atlanta than any other of the nation's top Shrine clowns.
At the Atlanta competition Saturday, Gillespie wowed fellow clowns in "parade-ability." Using many of the routines that he has learned and perfected on parade routes in Minot, Gillespie stumbled in over-sized shoes to a first-place finish. Showing his versatility, he also clowned his way to a second-place finish in "skit," third in "balloon," a top-five in "Clown Extraordinaire" and teamed with fellow clowns from South Dakota for a second-place finish in "group skit".
Gillespie, rather Dizzy, chose a magic act for his skit. Shrine clowns are not permitted to use any live animals in their acts, so Dizzy brought a stuffed rabbit to life. His antics took the clown crowd by surprise.
"I manipulated the rabbit to make it appear real. Then I asked them, "'Have you ever seen a man pull a hat out of a rabbit?'" said Gillespie. "I did it and it really blew them away!"
The Minoter has been clowning since 1973. Ironically, he got his start behind the make-up in Kansas City the hometown of clown who edged him by a nose for Clown Of The Year.