Copyright Toby the Clown Foundation, Inc.
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Before 1993, there were no official clowns in Lake Placid. Along came Keith Stokes, also known as "Toby" to his Shrine brothers. Toby enjoyed spending part of his retirement in the Lake Placid community, but he missed the special feeling he got from "clowning around".
He approached the local hosital, Florida Hospital - Heartland Medical Center and made arrangements with the hospital administration to entertain patients with his clowning.
His efforts were well received by patients and the hospital staff realized what a positive impact he made on the health care. Toby and the hospital quickly came to an agreement that he could use meeting rooms in the hospital to train more clowns.
The first clown class was graduated in 1993. Soon after, in 1995, Toby's Clown Alley #296 was chartered by the Clowns of America International.
To assist with fund raising, the Toby the Clown Foundation was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization.
The building in the photo above was completed and opened to the public in January of 2010. In addtion to providing room for meetings and classes, there are more than 700 pieces of clown memorabilia, a gift shop and an administration office.
Today, clowns from all over the Central Florida area help with special events and festivals by providing walking entertainment for visitors. Clowns can also be found on the street during busy tourist days in downtown Lake Placid.
Clowns also assist with children's birthday parties and make visits to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Of course, in the true spirit of the early days in Lake Placid, clowns and joeys visit local hospitals, too!
If you would like to book a bountiful bunch of bouncing clowns for an event, please call the Clown House - 863-465-2920.
Toby's Clowns receive no city, state or national funding, so your donation is always welcome.