Happy 60th Clown Town

RYAN HUTTON/ Staff photoFrom left, Suzanne Miller, Kim Solt, Melissa Litto, Lisa Kole, Sandy Kelly and Renee Poor, organizers of the Andona’s Clown Town celebration. This year, Clown Town is scheduled for May 20-21.

Andover’s very popular must-go family event returns for the 60th consecutive year as the clowns and lots of carnival rides is almost here.

Clown Town has a permanent place on the town calendar - the third weekend in May. And, perhaps more importantly, the event has a permanent place in many local hearts.

“It’s such a family event. So many grandparents come with their kids who have kids now. We see so many families and they really look forward to this,” said Melissa Litton, a member of the town’s Andona Society, whch hosts the event every year.

The immensely popular family event — with rides that range from toddler-friendly to scream-filled — is set to take over The Park at Chestnut and Bartlet streets on May 20 and 21. The two-day event promises to deliver its usual amusement that has made it a crowd favorite for six decades.

Clown Town is staying true to its intent determined in 1956 — to provide an old-fashioned carnival experience for local families while raising money for town programs benefiting the town’s young people. Those numerous programs over the years have included many scholarships for Andover High School seniors, swim lessons for handicapped children and camperships that pay for summer camp for kids whose families need some financial help.

Clown Town raises about $35,000 and all that money gets pumped back into town through programs for kids.

“Clown Town really helps us to fund our programs,” Litton said.

Pride of Andona Society

Clown Town is and has always been the pride of The Andona Society, a charitable organization formed in 1952 when a group of five Andover women were drawn together by the spirit of giving to varied causes. The name was chosen to reflect “Andover” combined with the Latin verb “to give.”

Back then, the organization allowed women, many of whom were stay-at-home mothers, a chance to socialize with other women around town. One of the group’s first charitable donations was to the Andover Home for Aged People. Andona members visited its residents, remembered them with cards on their birthdays and purchased equipment for the home.

Early fundraisers included dances, fashion shows, bake sales and plays. By 1956, Andona established a calendar of fundraisers — a fall dance, mid-winter event, afternoon Bridge in the Spring and the organization favorite Clown Town.

Clown Town has endured and Litton said there will be T-shirts for sale at this year’s Clown Town marking its 60th year. The shirts cost $10 each and will be for sale at the event.

“Sixty years is a very long time and Andona is very proud of this milestone,” Litton said.

Details

This year, the fun opens Friday, May 20, from 6 to 10 p.m. with the carnival rides and food. The Wacky Candy Shack — the 20-foot mobile candy shop — will return and promises to be very fun for kids as they go in one door and out another with arms filled with the sweet stuff.

On Saturday, May 21, things really get rolling with a day of face painting, sand art, games, hair glitter, Mad Maggie’s slush, pizza, Ultimate Perk coffee and doughnuts, and, of course, the carnival rides and clowns. Activities go from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

This year’s key “Big Top” sponsors are Stop & Shop and Lannan Mazda, with many more businesses offering their support in financial ways and otherwise.

 

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IF YOU GO!

CLOWN TOWN 2016

What: Annual carnival for kids and families, presented by the Andona Society of Andover

When: Friday, May 20, 6 to 10 p.m.; Saturday, May 21, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Heavy rain postponement date Sunday, May 22, noon to 6 p.m.)

Where: The Park, Chestnut and Bartlet streets, downtown Andover

Tip: Avoid the lines for the amusement rides as carnival ride tickets may be purchased in advance on Thursday, May 19,  from 4 to 7 p.m., at a booth set up in The Park; credit cards will be accepted.

Join the clowns: Volunteers are needed. Middle and high school students are being recruited for two-hour shifts to help from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 21. Additionally, high school students are needed to help with field set up from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. and field breakdown from 4 to 5 p.m.

More information: Visit www.andona.org

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