Parsley and Tootsie the clown visit with seven-month-old Lucas Ethan Cantu Wednesday at CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Alice as part of the Clown Healing program. Photo by OFELIA GARCIA HUNTER

Clowns help heal with laughter, volunteers said

Ofelia Garcia Hunter, Alice Echo-News Journal

Parsley handed out red sticker clown noses to individuals in the lobby. Tootsie had a rubber chicken for soup, and Tuttie-Fruttie showed off her smile with a cardboard smile she put up against her mouth as the trio visited with patients at the hospital Wednesday.

"Next time bring the boiling water because I have the chicken," Tootsie the clown, in a red and white striped and polka dot outfit told the administrators as she and the other two clowns made their way to patients' rooms.

Tootsie has been a professional clown for 14 years and earned her clowning degree at Del Mar College.

Parsley laughs and said she also has a specialty.

"I specialized in I-C-U," she said.

Aryssa Gonzalez, 1, wearing sunglasses, was the first patient the clowns visited Wednesday afternoon. Aryssa has been in CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Alice with pneumonia for two days. She shied away from the clowns and clung to her mother.

Patients such as Aryssa received a surprise Wednesday as Tootsie, Parsley and Tuttie Fruittie, local clowns, visited with each of them. They said bringing smiles to the patients' faces is their ultimate goal.

"It's fun," Tuttie Fruittie said. "We just want people to get well and feel fine."

CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Alice volunteers have implemented a program that brings smiles and laughter to the patients. It is an opportunity to provide the patients and their families with a different kind of healing with touch, laughter and joy, hospital officials said.

Mary Ann Garcia, 11, was grinning from ear-to-ear as the clowns entered her room.

"It makes me feel happy," said Mary Ann, who has been in the hospital for four days with an ear infection.

There are five clown volunteers who will visit the patients daily. One clown will visit per day and they all have fun stage names.

These women willingly give of their time to provide this service, hospital officials said. One is a retired school teacher and another is a stay-at-home mom and all are members of the CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital - Alice Volunteers.

Parsley said clowning is a way to give back to the community.

"It's giving a blessing back," she said.