by Tyler, Julianna, Dillon, Ella, Emma, Ashlin, Natasha, Alex, and Kristyona
While Troy Wunderle was visiting our school during the week of November 3rd, Mrs. Kane’s SKILLS group had a chance to interview him. The group met with Troy in the library on Wednesday, November 5th, and asked him lots of questions about his clown life and his personal life.
Growing Up and Family Life
Troy grew up in a log cabin in Saxtons River, and he attended the Saxtons River Elementary School, Bellows Falls Middle School, and Bellows Falls Union High School! Troy was a classmate with Mrs.Daigneault, and he was neighbors with Miss Diana! He worked on a farm from the time he was 5 years old all the way up until he was in college. Growing up, his family had “millions” of animals. There were three dogs, lots of cats, goats, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, fish, cows, sheep, pigs, bunny rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, turtles, parakeets, and many, many more!
Now Troy lives in Bartonsville with his wife Sara and two daughters, Ariana, who is 11 years old, and Emily, who is 13 years old. Both of his daughters are circus performers, and they have performed since they were two years old! Troy’s wife Sara works fulltime for Circus Smirkus, and the whole family tours with Circus Smirkus each summer, performing 80 shows all over New England.
One family story that Troy shared was that his family invented a candy that everyone has eaten. The students guessed every candy they could think of, but they couldn’t guess it! It was candy corn!!! It used to be called Wunderle’s Chicken Corn!
When asked why he wanted to be a clown, Troy answered that he has always been “intrigued by” (which means interested in) lots of things his whole life. He loves to travel, perform, build things, design things, sew his own costumes, play musical instruments, coach, perform, speak different languages, do athletic activities, and work with animals. As a circus clown, he can do all these things, and he can always be learning new things and using the things he has learned!
Troy’s mom and dad are proud of Troy, but they never would have guessed that he would be a clown. As a child he was afraid of heights and people! His two daughters think it’s fun to have a clown for a dad (he’s not too serious, and he goofs around and plays with them), and his wife thinks it’s crazy to be married to a clown for a husband!
Being a Clown
The students asked Troy how he overcame his fears of heights and people. Troy told the story of attending a circus when he was about ten years old. He watched people walk on huge stilts in front of hundred of members of the audience. It amazed him, and he thought maybe these people had fears but they had faced them. When he graduated from 8th grade at BFMS, he received the Citizenship Award, and he realized that teachers saw that he had potential to do great things. He began to think that he should think that he had potential, and he realized that he should challenge himself to overcome his fears!
After high school, Troy went to college and got a degree in graphic design. Then he was accepted to Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Clown College where he became a clown! (Next week, Troy will be flying to Rosemont, Illinois, where he is the director of a clown college!) He has many other clown friends in the circus with him because clowns consider each other family.
Sometimes Troy does dress up and use face paint, but he does not wear wigs or big clown shoes. He does not want to scare people like clowns sometimes do. Troy explained that being a clown is based upon how you act, not what you’re wearing. He is what is called a European style clown or a theatrical clown. The other thing he does to be a clown is use his voice in fun ways so that every person can enjoy it, even himself!
Troy`s favorite circus trick is stilt walking. He has stilt walked in rivers, up a ski mountain in winter, in the middle of people dancing, and on ice! Going up the ski mountain was probably the scariest thing he has ever done. Lots of skiers fell around him, but he did not! Troy does many performances including circus shows, bubble shows, workshops, strolling entertainment, school residencies, and circus camps. He is on the road a lot going to schools and other places.
He and other clowns can not be clowns all the time. There is a lot to the clown business that is serious: getting the work, paying bills, staying healthy, getting health insurance. However, Troy said, he always has a mindset that is inquisitive, intrigued, and joyful.
The Week at Central
The students asked Troy how he has been enjoying his week at CES. He said he was LOVING his time at our school!!! (He asked the students to end that statement with three exclamation marks!) He added, “I like the kids, the community, the teachers, and the phys ed teacher best of all. And it is 15 minutes from my home, so I can go home afterwards, which I don’t always get to do!”
Troy loves teaching people of all ages, from little kids to senior citizens, but he did say the students could say that (for the purpose of this interview) 4th grade was his favorite to teach!
Troy told the students that if they want to learn more circus acts, they should go to the library to find books about circus tricks, magic tricks, and Circus Smirkus. Troy ended the interview by giving autographs to each of the students! He explained that he gives out autographs because it makes kids happy, and his motto (as seen on the back of his shirt) is “Spread joy, create memories, inspire dreams.” Troy has certainly done all of that during his circus residency at Central School!