Be a clown! Be a clown! And that is exactly what Brookfield resident Jean Hoffman did!

After working at the library at Riverside-Brookfield High School for about 24 years, Hoffman decided to indulge herself with some of the things she had never had the time to do. She and husband Rick had long enjoyed square dancing together and she took up playing tennis, but the time had come for her to do something she had long wanted to do.

Having seen a performance at a clown school in Leesburg, Fla., Hoffman knew that was for her. Thus began Hoffman’s alter ego – Sparkles the Clown.

Hoffman enrolled in the clown school and began the two-month, once-a-week schedule that would teach her the arts of clown makeup, juggling and balloon sculpting.

Going to clown school also meant she would become good at making everything big – exaggerated clothes, expressions and actions as well as oversized reactions.

Sparkles says the hardest part of being a clown is to “think outside the box.” For instance, she will announce she’s going to sing “Happy Birthday” backwards – and then turn around and begin singing.

Her makeup takes an hour to put on, mainly because it is difficult to get everything even. The first time she wore makeup, it was done by a fellow clown. She says people don’t recognize her with her blue hair and clown face, which is very understandable.

She related that of the four different types of clowns, she chose to be a “contra-auguste” clown, the category of clown who is the intermediary between the auguste (the joker) and the whiteface clown. Other types of clowns include hobos and character clowns.

Sparkles says she has clowned around at the Scottish Home for a birthday and just volunteer her time. She is hoping to join the West Suburban Clown Association this month. As Hoffman a.k.a. Sparkles the Clown says, “I just want to put a smile on someone’s face.”

You made me smile today, Sparkles, just keep on clowning around and bringing those smiles to people’s faces.

Happy birthday to me: What else has made me smile of late? The 24 little duck signs on our front lawn last week and a sign from my family proclaiming I quack them up along with birthday wishes (and my age). It was their way of helping me celebrate.

Now I am the same age as Jack Wiaduck (as well as Barbra Streisand and Sir Paul McCartney). Good company, I’d say.