Clowning Around With Steven and Happy Harry


By: Teresa Dietrich

Steven is a small and excitable child, his gap-toothed smile frequently lighting up the room. His cheerful attitude appears to perfectly align with that of a child interested in clowns, but when Steven expressed his wish to meet one, he was looking more for horror than laughs. Despite his young age, Steven’s favorite movie is the critically acclaimed IT. Coy, a member of the Connecting Champions team, explains that Steven can frequently be found curled up with his iPad watching YouTube clips from the movie–only the scariest parts, too (however, Steven watches them in Polish, which he does not presently speak).

When Coy told Steven that a clown named Happy Harry had been found and was interested in meeting him, Steven was mildly disappointed. “But where’s my Pennywise?” he asked. Coy carefully explained that, despite Steven’s known penchant for horror, Happy Harry has taken a solemn oath to never frighten a child and wouldn’t even be in full costume the first few times he visited. “We wanted him to understand that James–Happy Harry–is a real person under all that makeup,” Coy said, and Steven’s mother agreed that this would be a good way to introduce a clown to her son.

Although Happy Harry can’t scare Steven, he provides a service even more appealing: making balloon animals. Steven was mollified by the knowledge that he would be in the presence of a balloon master, and by the time the two met he had forgotten his desire to be scared.

The first time they met, James didn’t look much like a clown: he wore jeans and a blue plaid shirt and had opted to bring a regular red clown nose instead of the official clown nose he glues on for performances. In spite of his average appearance, Happy Harry quickly proved himself a capable clown. His gags and magic tricks were all met with brilliant smiles from Steven, who watched enthralled as Happy Harry tore paper into shreds and then shook it out to reveal an untorn paper hat.

When the two got to the balloons, Steven watched as Happy Harry deftly inflated and twisted them into animals and swords. Happy Harry was happy to share one of the most important tricks of balloon shaping with Steven: clown approved balloons. By the time Happy Harry had to go, Steven was equipped with a balloon hat, balloon swords, and balloon animals. His small room was bursting with colorful clown paraphernalia as the two said goodbye, and James promised to become a frequent visitor at the hospital while Steven undergoes treatment. It’s safe to say that Steven has a new favorite clown now!

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