The Fire Clowns of Shawnee have returned to the stage this week to perform and educate students throughout the county about fire safety during the 2019 Fire Prevention Week, observed Oct. 7-15.
The clowns will put on shows at many area schools, but an evening performance open to the public is scheduled 7 p.m. Thursday evening, Oct 10, at the Shawnee Performing Arts and Athletic Center at Shawnee High School.
According to Shawnee Fire Chief Rodney Foster, this is his first year experiencing the Fire Clowns and he finds their shows fun and informative.
"Fire prevention is a pretty big topic in my mind. If we can prevent more incidents before they happen then everybody is safer and the Clowns have a wonderful curriculum to do that," Foster said.
The Fire Chief explained while students are having a good time, they're also learning about various safety topics.
"I was impressed that they came up with seven objectives and they tried to touch on all of them and made sure the kids understood them," Foster said. "So I'm excited the kids have a different learning medium for that."
Rodney explained each year the Fire Clowns have a different theme and this year's theme is humorous and entertaining.
"This year it's called 'Clowns Got Talent' and they have different acts come out and they act out something and whenever they have a safety hazard they turn a light and a siren on...they stop the show and they explain that this is dangerous," Foster said.
According to Shawnee Fire Department Lt. Richard Stevenson, the Fire Clowns program was started in 1990 by Jimmy Ogle and since then, various members of the Shawnee Fire Department have dressed as clowns, visited county schools and taught students the basics of fire prevention and safety.
Stevenson, also known as his clown name of Scooter, said he has been a part of the program for 11 years and took it over around four or five years ago.
He explained he is excited for this year's show and feels the topics are important and necessary for children to learn.
"Some of the things we're teaching are water safety, stop, drop and roll, tools and toys, and...escape in case of a fire in your house," Stevenson said.
He said the Fire Clowns are doing 22 shows and so far they've visited Liberty Academy, Will Rogers Elementary and Crossroads Head Start Daycare.
They will be visiting several other schools throughout this week and next, including Barnard Elementary School in Tecumseh, Asher Elementary School, Macomb Elementary School, the Shawnee Early Childhood Center, Fair Christian Academy, Horace Mann Elementary, Sequoyah Elementary School, North Rock Creek Elementary School, Jefferson Elementary School, Grove Elementary School, Pleasant Grove Elementary School, South Rock Creek Elementary School, Maud Elementary School, Prague Elementary School, Bethel Elementary School, Dale Elementary School and Meeker Elementary School.
The clowns also are doing the evening show that is open to the public so parents can bring children and families to the show. The public performance will be held 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, the PAAC at Shawnee High School.
Stevenson explained there are eight firefighter clowns who perform each year and they too enjoy teaching the students.
The clown also said students at each school enjoy watching and interacting with the clowns.
"We have a really good response with the shows. We play music...We'll do stop, drop and roll and bring the kids up to help us...they respond really well to the show," Stevenson said. "I think it's a good show. You've got to do stuff to keep the kids' attention and try to make it fun for them and...they get to laugh and have fun, but also learn some things."