'How it all began'
In 1966, Ray Bickford, who was the president of the Clown Club of America, appointed Frank Kelly the first International Clown Week Chairman. Frank urged members to write their congressmen and senators requesting a presidential proclamation naming the first seven calendar days of August as National Clown Week. In 1969 a resolution was introduced.
Meetings were conducted with Senator John McClellan of Arkansas who was chairman of the Senate subcommittee on Observances and Holidays success was finally achieved. On October 8, 1970, Public Law 91-443 under the 91st Congress, JJR 26 was passed by both the House and Senate and was sent to President Richard Nixon for his signature.
Proclamation 4071 - National Clown Week
August 2, 1971
By the President of the United States Of America
Whoever has heard the laughter of a child or seen sudden delight on the face of a lonely old man has understood in those brief moments mysteries deeper than love.
All men are indebted to those who bring such moments of quiet splendor-who redeem sickness and pain with joy. All across America good men in putty noses and baggy trousers following a tradition as old as man's need to touch gently the lives of his fellowman, go into orphanages and children's hospitals, homes for the elderly and for the retarded, and give a part of themselves. Today, as always, clowns and the spirit they represent are as vital to the maintenance of our humanity as the builders and the growers and the governors.
In the folklore of the world is the persistent claim that the heart of a clown is sad, and that all the gladness he provokes is simply a facade for the pain he cannot reveal to the world. In the myth is the kernel of reason: the clown leaves happiness where he goes, and takes misery away with him.
Yet we cannot suppose there is real truth in the myth. For surely the laugh-makers are blessed: they heal the heart of the world.
To call public attention to the charitable activities of clowns and the wholesome entertainment they provide for all our citizens, the Congress by a joint resolution approved October 8, 1970 (Public Law 91-433), has requested the President to designate the week of August 1 through August 7, 1971, as International Clown Week.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RICHARD NIXON, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the week of August 1 through August 7, 1971, as International Clown Week. I invite the Governors of the States and the appropriate officials of other areas under the United States flag to issue similar proclamations.
I urge the people of the United States recognize the contributions made by clowns in their entertainment at children's hospitals, charitable institutions, for the mentally retarded, and generally helping to lift the spirits and boost the morale of our people.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this second day of August, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred seventy-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred ninety-sixth.