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Old 09-20-2009, 11:27 PM   #1
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Sept 21, 2009: Clemyjontri Park

Down in Fairfax County Virginia, they have a big playground called Clemyjontri Park.
What makes it special is, handicapped kids can use it right along side all the other kids.

To the casual observer, the playground at Clemyjontri Park looks like an ordinary playground, with swings, slides and play equipment fun to climb on, under and around. A closer look will reveal that some of those swings have high backs for children who need extra support. Instead of standard transfer platforms there are ramps to the elevated play components. Pathways between equipment are wide and colorful, and the ground surfaces are non-slip and porous designed to provide a greater level of access for children.

The park is named for Adele Lebowitz’s (a major donor) four children: Carolyn (CL), Emily (EMY), John (Jon), and Petrina (Tri). Mrs. Lebowitz and her husband were also sponsors of a local children’s television show, The Pick Temple Show, in the 1950s. The star of that show, a clown named Bozo, was played by Willard Scott. Bozo, as you might know, would later morph into Ronald McDonald.
I don't know who originated the idea, but Lebowitz put up the big bucks... good for her.

I'm not buying Bozo morphed into Ronald, though.

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Old 09-21-2009, 03:25 AM   #2
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"I'm not buying Bozo morphed into Ronald, though."

Neither am I. I watched Bozo the Clown as a kid in Chicago in the 1960's.

Wiki says it actually started in 1946:


Unlike many other shows on television, "Bozo the Clown" was mostly a franchise as opposed to being syndicated, meaning that local TV stations could put on their own local productions of the show complete with their own Bozo. Another show that had previously used this model successfully was Romper Room. Since each market used a different portrayer for the character, the voice and look of each market's Bozo also differed slightly. One example is the voice and laugh of WGN-TV Chicago's Bob Bell, who also wore a red costume throughout the first decade of his portrayal.
The Chicago Bozo franchise was the most popular and successful locally produced children's program in the history of television. It also became the most widely known Bozo show as WGN-TV became a national cable television Superstation in 1978. Chicago's Bozo debuted on June 20, 1960 starring Bob Bell on a live half-hour show, weekdays at noon, performing comedy sketches and introducing cartoons. It evolved into Bozo's Circus on September 11, 1961, as a live hour-long show with additional cast members, a 13-piece orchestra, circus acts, games and prizes before a 200+ member studio audience.
Immediately following Willard Scott's three-year-run as WRC-TV Washington, D.C.'s Bozo, the show's sponsors, McDonald's drive-in restaurant franchisees John Gibson and Oscar Goldstein (Gee Gee Distributing Corporation), hired Scott to portray "Ronald McDonald, the Hamburger-Happy Clown" for their local commercials on the character's first three television 'spots.' McDonald's replaced Scott with other actors for their national commercials and the character's costume was changed. One of them was Ray Rayner (Oliver O. Oliver on WGN-TV's Bozo's Circus), who appeared in McDonald's national ads in 1968.
So it looks like there may be some truth to the Bozo/Ronald connection.
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Old 09-21-2009, 06:30 AM   #3
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Ever since the Willard Scott Bozo/Ronald MacDonald days, People who work in DC have been trying to act like Bozo. They've succeeded.
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Old 09-21-2009, 07:36 AM   #4
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One of the greatest days of my childhood involved my being in the studio audience of the Chicago Bozo the Clown show. It was quite awesomely cool. I loved Ray Rayner. He had his own morning kid's show as well as being a clown sidekick to Bozo.
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Old 09-21-2009, 08:14 AM   #5
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The glatt household has been to this playground. It's really not near us at all, but we had heard good things about it, so we drove the 25 minutes to get there. Very unusual for us to drive to a playground, since we have half a dozen in walking distance.

It was a couple years ago and it was so memorable that I recognized the place from the pictures before reading the text. Very popular. The small parking lot was full when we got there, and we had to wait for someone to leave before we could park. It was even crazier when we left, cars were lined up on the highway outside to get in.

It's not near any residential neighborhoods, so everyone drives there.

The entire place is paved with that ground up tire mulch stuff in bright colors. The equipment was different from anything we have seen before. It was clearly designed for wheelchair access, but was still fun for the glatt kids.

There weren't many wheelchairs there. But the strollers were everywhere. It was very stroller friendly. You could easily roll the baby in the stroller right up to where the older child was playing. You didn't have the typical mulch and sandbox barriers in your way. Also, kids were running around like crazy. Much more than at a regular playground. The entire place was just begging you to start sprinting. The paved rubber tire mulch stuff went everywhere and felt so good to walk on that you just wanted to run. So every kid was running.

There's a neat maze, and a jungle gym thing that has a wheelchair ramp going up it.

Pretty cool place, but we'll probably never go back.
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Old 09-21-2009, 02:49 PM   #6
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When I was about eight or nine, Bozo (I have no idea which Bozo) read one of my jokes on the air. If he read your joke that day, you got a special prize in the mail. My special prize? One of those damn paddles with a ball attached w/a rubber band. I cried.

The joke: Did you hear that Weird Harold almost got caught shoplifting? The security guards chased him through the dept. store, but he jumped on a scale and got a weigh. (Gimme a break, I was NINE!)

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Old 09-21-2009, 07:53 PM   #7
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Hey, that's better than quite a few of my jokes today.
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