There are a lot of advantages to being located in downtown Louisville during Derby time. Duplicator Sales and Service finds that one is being able to use their parking lot to host roller-skaters, dancers, clowns, and floats as they get ready for the march down Broadway. Each year, as parade preparations get underway, the locally owned company closes early and opens their garage as a meet-up point for Clown Alley, the official clown troupe of the Kentucky Derby Festival.
Notably absent this year was Kupkake the Klown, also known as Mary Pottinger-Stewart, chairman of the Clown Unit for the Kentucky Derby Festival (KDF). Her husband and co-chair, Denis Stewart explained that a medical issue had kept her away from the event they prepare for all year long.
The couple serves on the board of KDF, which is just one of numerous charities and non-profits they actively engage with. They and the other clowns serve Crusade for Children, Home of the Innocents, Special Olympics, and work with Dream Factory Louisville to name just a few.
The Stewarts eventually took over KDF Clown Alley after the passing of the longtime leader of the group in 2011, Judith M. Witten Barcas, otherwise known as Ju-Ju the Clown. Ju-Ju trained all the clowns in the group for 30 years until she passed away the very week before the parade. The Stewarts took charge of the clown school graduation that year. “The clowns were all in the parade in her honor,” said Denis Stewart.
When in full clown regalia, all the clowns in the group wore a button with a picture of Ju-Ju in her honor.
This year’s clown turnout had among its ranks Hi-Dee and Shoe-Bootie, and Clueless the Clown. Hi-Dee and Shoe-Bootie are a clown couple, married for 14 years. In their non-clown hours, they are Maria and Joe Paul Wuerth.
Clueless was already entertaining kids before the parade got underway. A little girl asked him who was on his button. “That’s Ju-Ju. She was my teacher. She taught me everything I know.”
“Walking the parade is nice,” said Clueless, who in his non-clown life works with kids in a group home. Unlike the Shriner clowns, who drive their tiny cars, his group walks and interacts with people along the route. “Walking the streets is more hands-on. You can high-five the kids.” He hands out stickers and buttons. “They just love it,” he said.
The group is actively seeking new clown recruits to train for next year’s parade. Anyone interested in learning the craft of clowning can reach out at [email protected].
The Pegasus Parade is an event for all of Louisville. The people who march are from every corner of the city, and bring their best to show residents and visitors what Louisville is all about. Duplicator Sales and Service and Derby City Litho is proud to open its doors and parking lot to the parade.