I was delighted to be paying a visit to my 4-year-old niece and 2-year-old nephew in Walla Walla recently. My delight was multiplied as they had not yet met my boyfriend, who is a professional children's entertainer of 32 years, and he would be coming with me from Hawaii.
My boyfriend Marc has delighted children with balloons, face painting and magic shows in many states of the U.S., and I was thrilled to be bringing him to Walla Walla so my niece and nephew would have a memorable experience meeting "Marc the Clown."
Well, Marc certainly did make an impression on the children of Walla Walla, but not exactly in the way I had expected.
One evening at Pioneer Park, Marc the Clown sat at the playground picnic table making balloon animals for the over 20 children who stood in line, waiting to receive their special treat. The show was interrupted by several local police who informed him he must stop his activities immediately and return to our rental car, which would be impounded unless we consented to a search.
Apparently, some concerned neighbors saw some "suspicious activity" going on in the car, which they interpreted as "snorting lines." As the renter of the car, I chose the less inconvenient route of consenting to the embarrassing public search, which turned up nothing illegal. The five police cars provided adequate entertainment for the half-dozen families sitting on their porches watching the show.
It seems that earlier in the day, three neighbors witnessed the legal activity of hand-rolling tobacco cigarettes inside the car, and assumed that someone was "snorting lines" and called the police.
I wonder why the "concerned citizens" didn't simply talk to their neighbors, my sister and brother-in-law, if they had questions about their visitors. Was it necessary to have 20 children see a clown and his host family escorted out of the park playground by police?
Was it necessary to have five police cars parked on our street, searching our rental car while the families on the street watched the drama unfold from their porches?
I appreciate the fact my young niece and nephew live in a town where the neighbors look out for each other. However, to me, looking out for each other means approaching situations in a neighborly way first, raising concerns with the neighbor directly before calling the police, keeping in mind the potential embarrassment that mistaken suspicions can cause.