The Kena Funmakers were founded in 1952…One of the earliest units of Kena Temple. The founding members of this unit were: Ken “Stumpy” Nicholson, Lou “Spatz” Craver, Charles Schover, Jack Reppen, J. Earl “Jedo” Davis, Ignatius “Doc Ruf” Rutkoski, M.D., Bill Richardson, and Milton Alexander. It wasn’t until 1975 that the name was changed to the Kena Klowns. No matter the name, these guys have always enjoyed having fun and joking around. The best thing about the unit is the distinct honor and privilege of being involved with and working hand in hand with children. Not only the children of fellow shriners or the kids we entertain during the many parades and events but most importantly the children we serve through our burn centers and orthopedic hospitals. The members of this unit, past and present, take great pride and pleasure in our duties and commitments.
From our founding class, Charles Schover was the first director of the unit. After him came Lou “Spatz” Craver. Doctor Ignatius “Doc Ruf” Riutkoski probably holds the record for number of years sitting as director. From the looks of it, he spent most of the 1960’s as their fearless leader. The Klowns are alive and thriving today due to the immeasurable work and effort these founding nobles and others along the way have put forth. They proceeded to cultivate and develop something truly special: the Kena Klowns.
Not only have the Klowns been privileged enough to have more than one of their members become potentate of Kena, but they are also honored with having more than one of their own having been elected and proceed to becoming president of the Mid-Atlantic Shrine Clown Association. The Kena Klowns have had the further distinction of having one of their members being elected to the highest Masonic office in our Commonwealth Grand Master of Masons in Virginia.
On a national level, the Klowns are supporters and members of the International Shrine Clown Association (ISCA). This association sponsors the “Sneaker Fund” that you may have heard about. The fund was originally set up to purchase and provide sneakers for children in the Shrine Burns Hospitals. Today this fund is used to support the Hospitals in a more general way by simply handing over the cash (or check as the case may be). Maybe not quite as personal, but probably more effective and efficient these days. The Kena Klowns collect and recycle aluminum cans, donating all the proceeds to this great and worthwhile fund. So next time you hear the Klowns nagging about keeping those cans…just remember that it all goes to this great cause.
A little closer to home, the Klowns are also members of the MASCA and SASCA regional associations. The Mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic Shrine Clown Associations hold business meetings as well as make-up and skit competitions at the yearly MASCA and SASCA conventions. SASCA was started in the mid 1970’s to help compensate for the larger temples from up north. It was getting hard to compete with those huge temples with their huge units. SASCA was started and had some divisional type groupings to help smaller temples compete with temples of similar size, etc… in the parades and other competitive events. Although the Kena Klowns joined the SASCA as soon as it was started, they have never ceased to be members of MASCA.
Klown Traditions –
The Klowns have been great supporters of Temple fundraising events. The unit’s minutes have shown that a great number of Klowns helped to sell fireworks back in the early 1970’s. Also, the Klowns assisted for many years with the yearly sale of onions. They still have big promotional signs that used to sit alongside the road at various locations, including a nice gas station up the road. These events provided a great opportunity for cooperation not only internally for the Klowns, but between the temple’s units.
The main fundraising event that the Klowns hold each year is the Steak Dinner. This yearly event was originally organized back in the 1980’s. The idea came from a similar event that a couple of Klowns had organized for the Job’s Daughters in the past. This is a wonderful social event where all the members of the Kena along with their friends and families are welcome to share our tables. So come out and dine with us on the great steaks that are grilled to order along with the super salad bar and other fixings and food festivities.
In the past, the Klowns have also had arrangements with Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts alike. They have worked events like the Blue & Gold Banquet and Boy Scout Dinners. The Klowns enjoy any opportunity to connect with the youth of our communities and hopefully, in the long run, we can provide more than just entertainment. This helps to raise awareness of the Shrine in the public eye. Also, this provides an opportunity to put us in touch with children who could be helped by our Shrine’s great philanthropy.
Klown Room –
The Klowns had two traffic stop lights at one time…neither in great condition, but through some wheeling and dealing, the Klowns traded one traffic light to the Hillybilly unit in return for a wheel rim to serve as a stand for the one we kept. They also assisted in welding the pole onto the stand, then the Klowns painted and spruced up the light to its present condition. It’s a fine adornment to the Klown room and has provided some great ambience for our meetings and other gatherings in our unit room.
Along these same lines, they acquired some funny furniture for the unit room as well. Ok, so the furniture isn’t all that funny but what about the krazy klown light fixtures? Around the same time they designed and constructed the bar that still proudly provides many Klowns and their guests with refreshment and relaxation. These nice embellishments were completed in the early 1990’s and the Klowns have been enjoying a higher standard of living ever since.
Klown Props – Antique Car – Motorcycle – See-Saw – Trailer –
Since obtaining the Klown Kar in the 1950’s, it has had many homes…Along with the see-saw different Klowns have been the custodian of these fine assets over the years. The Klowns also have a 1973 Honda motorcycle complete with sidecar. Unfortunately it has not made many public appearances in the past decade. The seesaw is another big prop that the Klowns haven’t utilized in recent years. The double seesaw is mounted on a trailer that is pulled by the Klown Kar in parades and other events. Apparently it is not the most comfortable seat for a parade and with the average age of the Klowns easily over sixty, they just aren’t as acrobatic as they once were. Fortunately the Klowns have kept the car in good working condition since the 1950’s and it has been a staple and a constant crowd pleaser at parades and events throughout the temple’s (and Klown unit’s) existence. It has been an active participant in the Klown unit longer than any single member!
Around the mid 1990’s, the Klowns were able to procure the current trailer, which is used to house and protect the prized Klown Kar. Since then the trailer has been used as a staging area. It also helps stay out of the heat or cold, which ever is currently afflicting the parade routes. Often setting up shop inside the trailer and through the use of a hot plate or other utensils and appliances, the trailer has been providing a great feast of foods and drink to keep our Klowns (and other shriners) in good spirits before and after parades.
These Klowns props and assets have been taken care of with pride and painstaking effort by many different Klowns. Whether at a particular Klown’s house or now centralized at the temple inside the nice trailer, Klowns have always been fortunate to have members and friends of the unit who are more than willing to keep the unit’s props well maintained. This gives a great opportunity to foster friendship and fellowship by having events allowing everyone to pitch in and help while having a good time. Nothing works better to keep a unit working like a well-oiled machine. The Klowns are blessed with members who are able and encouraged to put their natural talents and abilities to use in and around the unit. Some are great with children, some are talented with makeup, some are talented with balloons, some are great leaders, some like to tinker with the car or other mechanical aspects, while some like to cook, others like to talk, some are great supporters, some are good at all these things.
Overall the Klowns are a wonderful unit, which will hopefully continue to bring smiles to the faces of children for many years to come. That’s what really makes it all worthwhile. Nothing feels better than to come together with the sole purpose of providing entertainment and relief for children and adults alike. Come check out the Klowns, we may be funny but we do good stuff…