Keeping people smiling for 50 years

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Duncan MacRae just likes to keep people smiling.

Of course, they likely wouldn’t know it’s MacRae; they would be smiling at his alter-ego, Windy the Clown.

MacRae has been delighting the crowds at the Brigden Fair since 1963. It was that year that his new mother-in-law convinced him to don the clown suit to entertain the crowds at the fair and during the parade. He hasn’t missed a parade or a fair since then.

This year Windy is being honoured as the parade marshal, leading the parade he’s been part of for the last 50 years.

MacRae says as a child, he was shy and didn’t participate in any activities at school until his final year of high school when he became involved in the school play.

When his mother-in-law suggested he become a clown for the fair, he just “fell into the spot” that was interesting for him.

MacRae says he loves to “to get the smile of the children and some of the adults; it’s wonderful just to free people up and get them to laugh…there is not enough people laughing and enjoying life as there should be,” he says.

Clowning hasn’t always been easy. MacRae started biking around the fairgrounds several years ago knowing it would be too taxing to walk all day. For his 50th year, Windy needed a new clownsuit – he had to go all the way to Dorchester to find it.

And then, there’s the shoes. MacRae says they’re out for repairs before this weekend’s big event but at last word the cobbler was having a hard time finding enough materials to fix the giant soles. A new pair will run about $300 to $400.

And of course there is some people’s unreasonable fear of clowns. “There are some people, even adults, who are scared of me,” says MacRae. “I’ve been at the park or at a dance, they see me and they take right off fro the dance. I have a niece who was scared of me even knowing that it was me…we had her watch me get ready…she was still scared skinny.”

But even that doesn’t stop Windy from making the rounds of the Brigden Fair. MacRae says considering until 2007 there were two parades; Windy has walked, cycled and laughed her way through 94 parades; he’d like to make it to 100.

“I just like to keep people smiling,” MacRae says.