Saturday, May 21, 2011

Clownbox disappears in Lewiston

A guest post from Loren Coleman:

The ringmaster, Peter Sturgis, of the Kora Shriners Circus called the International Cryptozoology Museum today to follow up on some books he was obtaining from our giftshop. During out conversation, he mentioned that the circus's visit to Maine this year was one of the strangest they have experienced in years, due to the fact someone stole their "shrinker" from the parking lot of the Temple in Lewiston.

I looked up the news account via Bangor Daily News, and thought Strange Maine readers might be interested.
Clown prop stolen from truck in Lewiston
By Mark LaFlamme, Sun Journal
Posted April 22, 2011, at 9:36 a.m.

Sun Journal photo courtesy of the Lewiston Police Department
The Kora Clowns Weight Loss Machine in action at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
LEWISTON, Maine — The tension is thick.

A large clown named Kracker has crawled into a bright yellow box. Bulbs are flashing, blue, green, red. A buzzer sounds. Smoke pours from the magical box. Confetti flies into the air and moments later, the clown emerges, half the size he was moments before.

It’s called Kora Clowns Weight Loss Machine and it dazzles audiences wherever it goes. Only now, the machine is missing, the target of thieves who swiped it from the back of Kracker’s truck.

The theft was a trick in itself — at 400 pounds, the bulky box could not have been an easy thing to carry away.

“The machine is very large and heavy,” Lewiston police Lt. Michael McGonagle said, “and would need more than one person to move.”

Detectives are on the case. Real police, not the Krazy Kops. And they are not clowning around. Leads have already been developed. Police and the Shriners who use the box to entertain crowds at the circus are hoping the thieves will bring it back.

“It’s not a high-value item,” Shriner Michael Morin said. “But it means a lot to us and to the kids.”

On Thursday afternoon, there was a report that the Weight Loss Machine fell off the back of a truck on Interstate 295 in Freeport. Police were checking into that report while chasing local leads.

“If anyone has information,” McGonagle said, “or knows of someone who has lost a lot of weight in the past day, have them contact Detective Roland Godbout.”

Cue rim shot.

It’s hard not to joke about a device used by a bunch of clowns. But the Shriners are serious about getting it back.

The prop was taken from the back of a pickup parked on South Lisbon Road the night of April 12-13. Its absence leaves Shriners without one of their more popular gags with which to wow audiences.

“The guys are scrambling now to put something together for the Augusta circus shows on Friday and Saturday,” said Jim Bennett, also known as Ginjo the clown. The box was constructed by — no, really — the Shriners Klown Unit. It’s a simple box with attachments for the bulbs, smoke and confetti. It’s Kracker who goes into the machine but a slimmer clown named Stumpy who comes out.

Which Rob Farrington, of the Klown Unit, feels is fairly important to note. Who knows if the thieves are crawling in and out of the box, waiting for the pounds to magically disappear?

“It’s a pretty cool little skit,” Farrington said. “But it doesn’t really work.”

Thanks to Brian for pointing out a follow-up article in the Sun Journal, in which it was determined that the box fell out of Krackers' truck, and was not in fact stolen.
Clown prop recovered. Sort of.
By Mark LaFlamme, Staff Writer
Apr 23, 2011 12:00 am

LEWISTON — The Kora Clowns Weight Loss Machine, reported stolen earlier in the week, more likely fell off a clown's truck in Freeport, police said Friday.

Police said it appears the 400-pound wooden box was not stolen after all. Indications are that the gizmo may have fallen off of a pickup driven Richard Nadeau, aka Kracker the clown, after the Shrine Circus show in Portland on Tuesday night.

Highway officials apparently found the box along Interstate 295 in Freeport late Tuesday or early Wednesday. It was in less than prime condition, police said, and the Weight Loss Machine was disposed of.

Nadeau had been hauling the box and told police he did not notice the item missing from his truck parked on South Lisbon Road until Wednesday morning. When he discovered it was gone, he told police he assumed it had been stolen, police said.

It was not reported to police until Thursday. They began looking into the matter and by the end of the day, they discovered that the box had been found on the interstate in Freeport.

The Weight Loss Machine featured flashing bulbs, ominous smoke and a buzzer that heralded the seeming transformation of a big clown into a little one.

"It was a pretty popular skit," Shriner Mike Morin said.

It had been constructed by the Shriners and was valued at about $500. With more circus appearances on the schedule, Morin expects the Shriners will waste little time in constructing a new and improved Weight Loss Machine to continue the business of shrinking clowns and wowing crowds.

"I'd be really surprised," he said, "if they don't build another one right away."


Brian said...

There was another article a few days later. It wasn't stole but fell of the truck.

Michelle said...

Thanks Brian! Nice headline by the Sun Journal, too: "Clown prop recovered. Sort of." :)