Farewell, JP Patches

By Michael Folger

At 83 years young, the much beloved clown Julius Pierpont Patches signed off.

The longtime TV personality and local celebrity, known to those who grew up watching him as JP Patches, made his final appearance at the Fishermen’s Fall Festival this afternoon and received a rousing standing ovation.

The festival-stealing clown dressed in his signature checkered high-tops, baggy pants, patched yellow jacket and tag-toggled fishermen’s hat, and big red nose, made his way to the white-canopied tent where hundreds of people, many of them wearing their own red noses, cheered, clapped and clicked pictures.

“Wow!” JP said, looking out onto the crowd.

Not one to get caught up in the weight of this being his final festival performance, JP went right into saying the pledge of allegiance then inviting kids and adults on stage to play games and share laughs. Game winners were given colorful tubes of Flicks candies. The also-rans were given treats, too.

Doin’ the hula with JP.

Kids who had no idea who JP was, stood wide-eyed next to parents who knew exactly who the iconic clown was. The famed clown had been in their lives since when it first aired 53 years ago on KIRO TV on April 5, 1958. The show was completely ad-libbed every weekday and Saturdays. That sort of off-the-cuff humor was present at the festival when JP was teasing kids and treating them like adults – which was arguably much of JP’s appeal over the years on TV and at public appearances.

Patches pals, from left, Gail DiRe, Ruth Carlson, Susie Sigmar and Glenda Warehime.

“It never gets old,” said Gail DiRe. She and her friends, Susie Sigmar, Glenda Warehime and Ruth Carlson, each wearing a red nose, all came out to pay tribute to their childhood hero. Sigmar remembered years ago watching a show one day and JP saying to the TV, “Go look in the dryer, Susie.” referring to a line the clown used regularly. Sure enough, Susie checked her dryer and a present was there.

“We’re here to honor JP because we grew up with him,” Sigmar said. She and DiRe were JP Patches Pals and were on the show, too.

When he bade farewell to the crowd, he said it wouldn’t be goodbye and that he’d be in the neighboring tent signing autographs.

The line ran the length of concession tents and arced around out toward the water. Everyone was smiling.

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