Circus Flora


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Beyond the Big Top

One of the oldest performing arts, circus functions as a universal language – a performance of the human body, a community activity that unites the hearts and souls of everyone – filling a need present inside each and every human being, that cannot be sustained by the icy glare of a television or computer screen. Circus Flora strongly believes that Circus is an art form that should be available for all to enjoy and experience. As all who attend a Circus Flora performance know, the experience transcends boundaries of age, gender, race and socio-economic status.

Putting this belief into practice, Circus Flora has developed and implemented a range of outreach and educational programs.

Clowns on Call

The only program of its kind in the bi-state region, Clowns on Call brings laughter, healing, cheer and the wonders of circus to hospitalized children and their families. The program’s performers are experienced professional artists, skilled in multiple genres, including music, juggling, magic, improvisation, and slapstick. Spearheading the program is Claire Wedemeyer. Wedemeyer makes ‘clown rounds’ with partners, going room to room, entertaining at bedsides, as well producing shows in activity areas and playrooms. On select rounds, Claire partners with first section violinist Angie Smart of the St. Louis Symphony in collaboration with the SymphonyCares program.

  • Clowns on Call
  • Clowns on Call
  • Claire the Clown
  • Laughter helps heal
  • Claire the Clown
  • Clowns on Call helps


The delight expressed by patients and families is evidence of the healing brought to bedsides every week by Clowns on Call. By learning to spin a plate or balance a feather, young patients are not only entertained, but become active agents in their own recovery: appropriate physical activity is encouraged, minds are awakened by magic and music, and frustrations released through laughter at a clown’s comedic misfortunes. The work of health care providers becomes easier when children are distracted from the discomfort, pain, tedium, or gravity of their immediate situation.

Since its inception in 2011, Clowns on Call has had a substantive and measurable impact on the lives of over 3,000 young patients and their families at SSM Cardinal Glennon and Mercy Children’s hospitals. As many of those served by the program are coping with life-altering illnesses, consistent visits by Circus Flora artists is vitally important. In the words of Keith, a four year-old cancer patient, “Tuesday is my favorite day. That’s when Claire the Clown is here.”

In the news!

Josh Holland of the St. Louis Post Dispatch had this to say!

Watch Mike Busch of KDSK Channel 5 making the rounds with Claire the Clown.

Underwriting support generously provided by:

Cardinals Care
Dana Brown Charitable Trust
Dula Educational & Charitable Foundation
Husch Blackwell
John Allan Love Charitable Foundation
SSM Cardinal Glennon Foundation
The Trio Foundation of St. Louis

Tumbling & Teamwork

Tumbling & Teamwork is a two-month training intensive for students with a range of learning and socialization challenges. Serving up to 15 youth per session, program participants learn a variety of circus skills, including tumbling, balance, juggling, clowning, and aerial arts while developing their self-confidence and communication abilities. All program activities, including tickets to the Big Top production, are free of charge to participants and their families. Each session culminates with a performance showcase of individual and ensemble acts.

The specific goals of the Tumbling & Teamwork program are as follows:

  • Provide access to positive role models, new experiences, and opportunities to learn circus skills together with professional artists.
  • Develop social competencies, including the ability to both trust and communicate effectively with peer team members, to overcome fears and build self-confidence.
  • Practice circus arts in a supportive environment.
  • Enable creative expression through conceptualization and presentation of a public performance.

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I loved Claire the Clown. She was amazing. We talked and made paper flowers. It was great!
Patient, 10 years old
Claire is amazing! She makes all of our kids smile and enjoy their hospital stay. Some of our long-term kids know what day Claire comes and look forward to it all week!
Child Life Specialist
Claire’s entertainment and enthusiasm draw our patients out of their rooms. She encourages the kids to interact as part of her routine and they love it! Claire brightens the day for kids unable to leave their rooms with bedside visits. She has a positive effect on every child she encounters.
Child Life Specialist
Claire was amazing and lifted my mood and brought me happiness and laughter.
Patient, 13 years old
Claire was just what my daughter needed! The uplifting music and really cool magic came at a time when boredom had set in and nothing sounded of interest. Claire was so fun, didn’t treat my 16 year-old as a youngster. We really enjoyed her. Thank you for the priceless moment!
Patient Family Member
Claire and Matthew’s performance really perked up my little girl. It wasn’t looking like she was going home that day, but after their visit, she did! Thank you so much!
Patient Family Member