Stories about: Big Apple Circus Clown Care

Reliving TEDxLongwood

The Longwood medical area (the section of Boston that’s home to Boston Children’s Hospital and many other renowned medical centers) was recently the site of an exciting speaker series called “TEDxLongwood”—an independently organized event that brought people in the Longwood area together to share a TED-like experience.

Two of the day’s presenters had personal ties to Boston Children’s, each with a unique and moving story, which we wanted to share with Thriving readers.


Elaine C. Meyer, PhD, RN, is a staff psychologist at Boston Children’s and director of the hospital’s Institute for Professionalism & Ethical Practice. In the following talk, Meyer recalls personal experiences—both from her times as a doctor and a patient—to remind listeners that sometimes being supportive and emotionally available to a patient and her family is the most important care a person can provide.


Jimmy Zankel is a director of The Big Apple Circus, the circus troupe that trains the men and women who staff Boston Children’s Clown Care Unit. In the following talk, Zankel explains how specialized training, carefully coordinated communication with the medical team and a pair of oversized underwear played a crucial role in one child’s treatment.

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Just clownin' around

Summertime is sundae time, and in this video, Children’s Hospital Boston and Big Apple Circus Clown Care clowns Dr. Gonzo and Dr. Gon Golfin show you how to make the perfect ice cream treat. Watch out for the whipped cream!

One clown’s story: Robb Preskins, aka Dr. Gonzo, on what it’s like to be a clown at a hospital for kids.

I remember my first time on rounds here at Children’s Hospital Boston in November of 1995. I had never performed clown rounds and Children’s had never had clowns on rounds. I kept checking my doctor’s bag to see if I had everything I needed to perform my job. I had juggling clubs, a fake skunk, a pack of playing cards and my sense of humor. I glanced at the mirror to check my make-up and made sure my red nose was on straight. I had a brand new pair of size 18 clown shoes. The white doctor’s coat was crisp. I had forgotten my whoopee cushion and that was going to throw my game off a little. No matter, I would just improvise. I was ready.

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