Daisy Dots opens Smile Factory for children in New Bedford MA

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NEW BEDFORD — There’s a clown at Hatch Street Studios, and she’s ready to teach her skills to budding young clowns at The Smile Factory.

When Elaine Vercellone arrives at a party or event, she chooses to transform into her alter ego Daisy D. Dots, a friendly clown, in front of her audience – because she wants them to know there’s a person underneath. .

“We’re not cartoon characters,” she said. “It’s not about scaring.”

She said the difference between a circus clown and a party clown is that kids are always adding something.

“Circus clowns do the same shtick over and over, in every place, and it doesn’t really change,” she said. “But when you have parties, it’s really special because it changes. You have to change with the children.”

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What she does at The Smile Factory

Located in the Hatch Street Studio in New Bedford, The Smile Factory in Vercellone is a whimsical place where children can learn the art of clowning.

There’s a rack full of clown costumes, face painting, puppets, items for magic tricks and colorful props to bring these lessons for kids to life.

She has a lot of experience in teaching her craft. For 25 years, Vercellone taught a 10-week summer clown course – West Island Clown College’s JJ Program – at the Fairhaven Community Center.

She has taught over 350 children to become “Junior Joeys”, following the World Clown Association’s program for young clowns.

“Clowning is a dying art,” she said. “We are desperately trying to get the kids in to help them see what we saw and the importance of making someone smile.”

In her classes, she teaches stage presence, juggling, face painting, performing magic tricks, storytelling, working with hospital patients, sketch writing, and clown history.

Currently, she is setting up and running the classes at The Smile Factory now that the COVID numbers are coming down.

The day she “finally grew up”

Born and raised in Long Island, New York, Vercellone said she has been a puppeteer since kindergarten, always putting on puppet shows for her family and friends. She still uses some of the puppets from her childhood.

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In 1987, Vercellone’s son Billy was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of four. He was treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Every 30 days, he had to undergo a spinal tap and a lumbar puncture for three years.

Clowns from the Big Apple Circus stopped by the hospital to entertain patients during his stay, and then one day Billy asked Vercellone to dress up as a clown for a Halloween party.

“And that’s where I grew up,” she said. “I realized what life really was and what was important. Just live life and enjoy the moment.

With the help of a friend, Vercellone becomes a professional clown.

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When Billy was in remission, he had the opportunity to meet Fred Rogers, from “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood”.

“He was amazing. I learned that you have to give your mind a chance to have fun,” Vercellone said. “At that point, you can take your mind off things for a little while, and it means so much to you and every decision you make after that.”

That’s the feeling Vercellone hopes to convey by playing the role of Daisy D. Dots. Drawing inspiration from Mr. Rogers and other famous artists such as “Sharon, Louis and Bram”, “Raffi” and “Lambchop (aka Shari Lewis)”, Vercellone entertains with music, magic and non-stop fun. -stop.

Daisy is all about “camp, fun and smiles,” she added.

Vercellone was originally called Rainbow, then after taking classes she changed it to “Daisy Dots” because of her wardrobe. Then added the “D”, which stands for “delicious”, to stand out even more.

Vercellone, who has been a registered clown for nearly 35 years, said his favorite memory was attending Clown Fest, an event that attracted 500 clowns from around the world.

The Daisy D Dots Clown Act

She has performed at civic events, birthday parties, schools, YMCA after-school programs, hospitals and nursing homes.

Vercellone said she would also incorporate “life lessons” into her act, such as “Be Nice,” an anti-bullying show she started for schools. The act featured a bumblebee hand puppet named “Bee Nice” and his Bee Nice Boogie Band.

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Vercellone has received numerous awards for his performances, including at the Clown Jamboree in Mystic, CT, the Mid Atlantic Clown Association, and the WCA Awards for Skits.

In 2018, Vercellone was honored with “Clown of the Year” by the World Clown Association.

At the end of the day, Vercellone said the most important thing in life is to make people smile and she thinks everyone has an inner clown – which is why she’s thrilled to return to Hatch Street Studio .

“Sometimes your smile can lift someone’s spirits, you don’t realize it can just make someone’s day better,” she said.

Standard-Times editor Seth Chitwood can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @ChitwoodReports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.

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