SUNSET -- Dressing as a clown can bring smiles, but it also can prove to be a hindrance, said Gayle Hasler Cook, also known as Fifi,the Magic Clown.
Cook, 55, of Sunset, announced her plans to retire after 32 years of clowning along the Wasatch Front.
But she took a moment to share some of her funnier moments:
* When she first started, a friend gave her a pot-bellied pig, Ernie T. Pig, which accompanied her for performances. Another friend would drive Cook and Ernie to those performances. Ernie sat on the back seat in the large Oldsmobile. One day, on 1900 West in Roy, her friend had to brake hard, and Ernie fell off the seat and landed on his back on the floor of the car. He started to scream. Her friend pulled over, Cook got out and opened the back door to help Ernie.
He bolted out of the car and ran down 1900 West with Cook "in full clown costume chasing my pig," Cook said.
And no one would stop to help. Instead they honked, thinking Cook was having an impromptu parade.
* A Layton bank was robbed by a person dressed as a clown. Cook, who was living in west Layton at the time, got a visit from police. They had heard a clown lived in the area and wanted to see if she matched the description.
"I'm short, white and fat," Cook said. "They were looking for tall, black and skinny."
"But then again, all clowns look alike," Cook said, laughing.
* Before cellphones were available to everyone, getting help while dressed as a clown was impossible, Cook said. Her car broke down in Farmington after an event in the middle of the day. So she walked up to a nearby house and knocked on the door. She could see a woman looking out the window to see who was at the door, but the woman didn't open the door. It took 10 more doors before someone would answer and let her use a phone.
* When Cook drives herself to a birthday party, company event or city celebration, things can happen. Mostly it's people driving up next to her to see if she really is a clown. One woman took a moment to see if Cook really was a clown, hit an LDS missionary who was on a bike, and then kept on going. Cook pulled over to help the missionary and tried to get others to stop to help, but no one would.
"They thought it was a clown act," Cook said.
* After an event at the Treehouse Museum in the old Ogden City Mall, Cook found that she was walking by herself, wheeling about 200 pounds of gear on a cart to her car. A group of teenage boys, who looked like gang members, stood in her way on a ramp between the parking lot and her car.
"I was really scared," Cook said. She didn't know if she would have to charm them with her magic tricks or run for her life.
One of them said to her, "Hey, Fifi. Do you remember me?"
Then he shouted to the others, "Hey, everybody. Let's help Fifi."
And the teenagers grabbed her stuff and walked her to her car.
"It was the sweetest thing," Cook said.
* Cook learned after her first July 4th parade to have transportation available at the end of the parade route. At that time, Clearfield, Kaysville and Layton asked all clowns in the area to participate. Clearfield's parade was always first, and it was 2 miles long. When she got to the end, she realized she only had 15 minutes to get her car and arrive in Kaysville.
"I tried thumbing, but no one is going to pick up a clown."
* Cook said that when she was single, she was able to keep men away by telling them she was a professional clown. "Men don't think that's sexy."
But when she met Danny Cook, that changed. She said:
"I told him I was a professional clown, and he said, 'You make little animals out of balloons,' and I could tell he was sincere and thought it was cool."
Contact reporter Loretta Park at 801-625-4252 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LorettaParkSE.