Brant Sanderlin, firstname.lastname@example.org John Vlass gets a high five from a child during the annual Shire Circus at Jim R. Miller Park in Marietta. The volunteer clowns entertain the kids before the show and perform a skit during the show.
By Jon Waterhouse
For the AJC
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
John Vlass of Marietta can’t find his nose
There are only so many spots a red clown honker can hide. Yet his RV is in such disarray with clutter it could easily be covered by one of several piles.
As Vlass continues the hunt, it’s obvious his wife isn’t with bunking with him for the next several days. No feminine touch in sight. Vlass is flying solo, but not totally. He’s in one of approximately a dozen campers and RVs lining what he and his cohorts dub “clown alley” at Jim R. Miller Park in Marietta. It’s the site of the 70th Annual World’s Largest Shrine Circus & Midway Carnival.
Vlass, a second-generation Shriner, is one of the volunteer clowns performing during the circus’ run. Many of these guys, ranging from blue-collar types to retired business execs, call the fairgrounds home for the duration becoming instant celebrities in the process. Vlass, who owns an office furniture business, is not only donating his time to clowning, but he’s burning vacation days to boot. This gives him plenty of time to focus on becoming Opa, his alter ego.
Vlass recovers the nose, and now the morphing begins. The process usually takes 40 minutes to an hour. White greasepaint goes around his mouth and eyes; fleshy rouge covers the rest of his face; a red smile stretches across his lips and sweeps up above the corners of his mouth. After slipping on a green braided wig and capping it off with a yellow beanie, Opa officially arrives.