2008 - Volume #32, Issue #2, Page #09[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Stilt Walker Entertains At County Fairs, Parades
The Denver, Colorado, entrepreneur bought a pair of $800 handcrafted stilts 10 years ago after reading an article about them. He knew how to use them from a previous job taping drywall. He purchased a $1,000 Uncle Sam costume and joined the Colorado Clown Association.
Since then, Coleman has added dozens of toys, costumes and gigs to an act that he takes on the road in a 1,000-mile radius from Denver. His fees vary, but his local stilt walking hourly fee starts at $150/hour with a $200 minimum.
"I started this when I was in my 40's," Coleman says. "I looked around and tried to create a niche with one-of-a-kind performances and attractions."
Coleman doesn't just do stilts. He also performs as a 10-ft. dancing Christmas tree and he has 18-ft. friendly giant parade puppets. He has also revised and updated popular Emmett Kelly Clown routines, and he fascinates babies to adults with his 14-ft. solar powered bubble tower, which comes in cow, patriotic, rainbow and other motifs.
"At events, the 2 to 4-year olds got too wound up and start running into each other. So we put the bubble machine on a cycle to adjust the time, so they can kind of collect their senses," Coleman says. "It's not just the kids that get wound up, but the parents as well."
Coleman prefers outdoor street entertainment to indoor stage performances. He offers complete package entertainment that can be customized for specific events - whether it's advertising a business on 5-ft. long pants he wears over his stilts or wrapping the bubble tower in pink for a Komen Race for the Cure for Breast Cancer fundraiser.
He also brings up to 36 pairs of stilts to events for people to try.
"The stilts range from 9 to 24 inches off the ground," Coleman explains
To set himself apart from other U.S. entertainers, Coleman gleaned ideas from traveling to New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and other countries.
When he first started, Coleman "crashed" events for free to become better known and to learn how to entertain. It's also helpful to join associations for clowns, stilt walkers and entertainers.
Coleman continually adds costumes, toys and equipment to keep the act fresh. He often wakes up in the middle of the night with ideas for new gags. He markets his business through two websites and by sending 4,000 postcards four times a year to art festivals, event associations, corporations and chambers of commerce.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bill (Stretch) Coleman, 930 S. Decatur St., Denver, Colo. 80219 (ph 303 922-4655; email@example.com; www.stiltwalker.com; www.bubbletower.com).
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