"Clowning Around with Pitillo" is the latest installment in Union City's Summer Theatre Festival in the Park, which attracts hundreds of spectators to the park, which is located at New York Ave. and 24th St.
Sponsored by Union City in collaboration with the Grace Theatre Workshop, the three-month summer festival brings the community a variety of entertainment, from musical performances and comedy skits to classic works. The show starts at 7 p.m.
Send in the clown
For the last two months, audiences have had the chance to enjoy the classic works of William Shakespeare and the traditional music of various cultures. Though most of these acts have been family-friendly, "Clowning around with Pitillo" is the first act of the season that is geared towards kids.
At the center of this one-man circus is Jairo Cardona, a.k.a. Pitillo the Clown.
"I was given the name Pitillo because I was skinny like a straw," said Cardona.
Originally from Colombia, Cardona has been in the children's entertainment business for 15 years. While in Colombia, he was a guitarist for a theater group, and later filled in for one of the actors.
"That is when I discovered I had talent [in acting]," said Cardona, who went on to study music and children's theater at the Arts and Music Conservatory in Colombia.
"I have always dealt in the arts and have loved the work since I was a kid," Cardona said.
Cardona has been entertaining the kids of Hudson County for the last eight years, since immigrating to the States, and continues to study his craft.
"I have studied at Clowns of America International, and I started working with the Grace Theatre Workshop a year ago," said Cardona. "I have been working around the area, and with the workshop I have performed at the different events they have in Union City.
Cardona also runs his own entertainment business for children's parties.
Forget your troubles
"I feel I have an important job," said Cardona. "It's just as important as being a doctor, and I do it because it's my calling."
Due to the fast-paced world we live in, Cardona feels that kids are growing up too fast.
"There is so much stress in the world and parents who don't have time to spend with their kids," said Cardona. "Kids have lost a lot [of their childhood], so I try to tap into that creative part of the children though play and music."
Through his act, Cardona hopes to give children a different entertainment option, rather than just wasting time in front of the TV or computer screen, or being on the streets, where they are exposed to other elements such as drugs.
"I want them to forget the mechanical part of living [like video games and the Internet], for a while," he added. "Everything I do is to tap into a child's creativity."
At the show this coming Thursday, Cardona will bring some of his favorite magic tricks and comedy routines, plus children's stories and songs, and of course, games.
"The public is going to play with me," said Cardona. "I'm going to have participation from the kids during the show. I try to do a little bit of everything. It's interactive recreation."
Kids will also be able to take home balloons and some mementos from their evening with Pitillo.
"Children need the Grace Theatre and events like this, where they can go and practice the arts [or other interests]," said Cardona. "In a world where everyone gets so consumed [in daily life], events like this also bring families together." Jessica Rosero can be reached at email@example.com