Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
MT. PLEASANT — Mt. Pleasant Public Library welcomed a unique guest reader to their toddler reading time this week, a clown!
Sweet Mimi the clown is part of the Red Nose Readers (RNR).
According to the RNR website, the program is designed to promote literacy and anti-bullying with a unique approach.
Certified members of the program read a book to students and transform into a friendly clown right in front of their eyes.
“Her purpose is to introduce clowns to kids at a young age,” Children’s Library Director Amy Willson said. “She comes in just as herself and they can see just a person like your grandma, aunt, teacher, friend, and she puts on silly clothes so they can see that a clown is just a person dressed up.”
While the program does help acclimate children to clowns being real people in costumes, it is also designed to show them that it is OK to be different and creative.
“Building that awareness and sensitivity to a person’s feelings may help them think twice about judging by appearances and being a bully,” the RNR website states.
Sweet Mimi, also known as Thelma O’Neil, is a retired school administrator from Mt. Pleasant.
She was inspired toward this journey when she saw a clown perform at her grandson’s birthday party.
O’Neill has been in the clown business for over a decade, now, and is grateful to love what she does and be a little silly.
The children each took home a coloring sheet following a story time and magic trick with Sweet Mimi.
According to Willson, Sweet Mimi will return monthly and gradually transform, more and more into her clown self, right in front of the children’s eyes.
“She really didn’t even put very much makeup on this time,” Willson said.