In their own words: "Ringmaster" Tickles the Clown

Photographer assistants: Wendo Mendelini|!!| Joan Long and Erin Thomas
The fearless child posing with Tickles is Nadine Long.

One of the most beloved (or befeared) characters at the annual, spectacular Haunted Overload in Lee is “Ringmaster” Tickles the Clown (aka master costumer Bill Kennedy). Usually a shy fellow, we got Tickles to speak up on everything from coulrophobia (fear of clowns) to his own nightmares.

  • Although pop culture had clearly played a role, I think the fear of clowns is more primal and much older than most pop culture references.
  • It’s a scary climate right now with the raging wars and extremist groups such as ISIS.
  • The constant smile on the face makes one uneasy and nervous.
  • I actually left a paid job at a “big box” haunted attraction as Haunted Overload gave me the opportunity to create and show the artistic side of fear.
  • I have had people come through holding their children in front of them as a shield.
  • We warn parents about the intensity level. Some kids absolutely love it. For some, it’s not a beneficial or positive experience.
  • I sleep best in the pitch dark and I always have.
  • Tickles began with a simple sketch. I hand crafted everything (with the exception of the boots) as I do not believe in purchasing store bought costumes. There is no originality in that.
  • I was one of those kids (and adults) who found clowns to be quite frightening.
  • One could say that my own fears and anxieties about clowns is where Tickles was born.

When he’s not scaring the bejeezus out of visitors to Haunted Overload or creating outrageous makeup and set design for attractions like Spooky World, Bill Kennedy works as a child protection social worker for the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. (Learn more about Tickles’ political aspirations at “Tickles for President in 2016” on Facebook.)

Check out Haunted Overload

DeMeritt Hill Farm
66 Lee Road (Route 155)
Lee, NH 03861
(603) 868-2111

Open various days and times throughout the month of October.

Categories: Q&A