Clowns And Kids Crack Up In Hancock County

"We are so happy to be here," shouted two clowns as they emerged at the Bay St. Louis-Hancock County Library on Wednesday.

"What is behind your back," one suspicious clown asked the other.

The children laughed when they noticed "Burgundy the Clown" hiding a huge comb behind her back.

Under the big, red noses and colorful make-up are actors Deven Sisler and Yvette Feuer. They are members of "Clowns Without Borders," an international group that's on a special mission -- restore humor to South Mississippi and other areas in crisis.

"We wanted to come right after the hurricane, because we were both very moved and very sad about what happened," said Yvette Feuer.

"We know you need homes. You need all these basic things," said Deven Sisler. "But you also need laughter. You need to have a good time."

Learning to be wacky and silly again gives children who lost their homes and schools in Katrina a chance to heal.

"When they first came to school, they didn't even want to get out of their cars, and they were crying and very sad," said Waveland Elementary teacher Shannon Ladner. "And each day, they're becoming stronger, and this has helped put a band-aid on it for a little while."

Eight-year-old Amanda Briley was inspired by the performance.

"What would I be when I grow up," Amanda asked herself. "Either a doctor, or a vet, or a clown, and I picked a clown because I saw these clowns."

"It's so rewarding to see them laugh and have a good time," said Feuer. "It's great! It energizes us."

Sisler said, "We end up encountering a lot of people who say their kids never really met clowns before. They've never been to the circus."

"Clowns Without Borders" raised $3,000 to fund the ten-day tour. The team is also putting on shows in Gulfport, the Kiln, Poplarville and Ocean Springs, as well as New Orleans and Baton Rouge.