Wishing all my readers a good morning. It is very overcast and will get to the 90 degrees In the Chicago land area.
In Chicago, one of the icons of the city was Bozo's Circus. It was on television for years. Their studio was down on Addison Ave. in Chicago and to get tickets to actually be on the show took often times 5 years. It got so that people would write to Bozo Circus when a new baby was born to get on the list so they could go.
Bozo Circus was the most amazing show to watch as a kid. I remember when I was in grammar school, it was a time when, if you lived close enough to the school to walk home and back, you could go home for lunch. Now I was about 6 blocks from school and that was just a right distance to be able to walk home, have lunch and walk back. The one thing I remembered about that was that when I ate lunch, I was able to watch Bozo on TV. I would sit at the kitchen table with my tomato soup and bread for dunking, and watch the program. The Bucket game was the highlight of the show. There were 6 buckets that were lined up and an arrow would flash on the television set as it strolled through the audience and then would stop. That was the child that would get to play the bucket game. If my memory serves me right...there were 3 children chosen. Once in a blue moon, a child would refuse to go up...boy, I bet if they look back now, they regretted that decision. Well, Mr. Ned, he was the ringmaster, would give you ping pong balls and you had to stand behind the line and throw the ball into the buckets one at a time. If the ball went in, you won a prize. Each bucket had a better and bigger prize as you went along. The final bucket they had put in a $50.00 Bill and a ticket for a Schwinn bicycle. Countless children in my day practiced throwing ping pong balls into buckets just in case they ever got to the show. They would break away to watch a cartoon... Rocky and Bullwinkle was the hit show at the time. They would have all types of acts and shows on from dancing poodles to magic ticks. There were routines done by Bozo, Cookie and Sandy. They were the other clowns on the show. They had this big old Dog house that they would bring out and Mr. Ned would knock on the door and this raggedy dog, name Cuddly Duddley would come out and speak with him about the topic of the day that came in the mail..
You knew the end of the show when they announced the March at the end. Bozo would have a baton and would begin the march and all of the audience would file out , marching away with Bozo, waving into the television. Oh what a kid wouldn't have given to be on that show.
I never had the opportunity to be on the show when I was a child, but thanks to my daughters Godmother, she had written for tickets when my daughter was born. And when she was about the age of 5 we got to go to Bozo Circus. What an experience. You expected to walk into this BIG circus area, when actually it was just this small studio. You piled into the bleachers, and watched the show. Neither of the girls were chosen with he arrow. for the Grand Prize Game, but just having been on the Bozo show was such a big deal for them....and me!
A few years went by, and I became the Camp Fire Girl leader for my daughters group. Well, I wrote to the Bozo Circus about the group and lo and behold. I received 15 tickets. I couldn't believe it, There we were, all of the girls, myself and another 2 moms, back at the circus. I remember one of our girls from the group was chosen to play the game...and of course all the rest were so disappointed at not being chosen, but happy at the same time for the girl that was. What an experience I felt that I was able to give them. I had found out that they reserve a certain amount of tickets for group like the scouts and such. Glad someone passed that bit of information down.
That day I am sure lived in those girls hearts forever.
And when you would think that would be the end of the story, I have to surprise you. You see, I worked in a rectory, and was in charge of one the Parish fundraisers. It was my job to secure donations from various business' so that we could sell Raffle tickets. I had gotten tickets from local Theaters for plays, Dinner certificates from some really great High End Restaurants, Comforters and appliances were also secured, but the most surprising was, and I am sure by know you have guessed it....was 4 tickets to Bozo Circus. The Parish made a ton on selling their raffle tickets, mainly because of the Bozo tickets. They were like Gold. That was the GRAND PRIZE! I was thrilled at the sales, all the proceeds went to the church. Then ,the final day came. We had a great big dinner dance and one last chance to buy those tickets. St. James in Chicago's Parish hall was filled. The dinner was over and the attendees were all enjoying the coffee and dessert when it was time for the drawing. Of course the anticipation was building. We raffled off prize after prize. You could see the anticipation written over everyone's face. Finally, the last raffle was brought down out off the stage....I held the bucket and the last ticket was drawn....I announced the number, everyone was frantically checking their numbers simultaneously looking around to see if someone else claimed the prize...no one was answering, no one seemed to have the ticket....and then I realized, that I had not checked my own tickets. I reached into my pocket....and there it was....I had won the tickets. I could not believe it! Go to the Bozo Circus AGAIN? This was surreal. In the end, I did not go to see Bozo. I gave the tickets to my daughters who were just in high school and they took a young girl who was a family friend along with another one of their friends. They had one more experience with Bozo, only this time they were more like the mom...so they got to experience it from another angle.
No matter how or when. Bozo Circus was one of the biggest deals in Chicago. It was sad to see it leave WGN. It was a Chicago staple. It was a piece of Chicago's History. It was a moment for my family that we will always remember. I am so proud that we had the opportunities to be part of it, and that we were able to share it with others.