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Couple runs Children's Party Wagon

November 02, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG - Donna Barnes is a wife and mother. She's also an elf, a clown and occasionally a magician or even the Easter Bunny. And she's handy with a horse or a pony when necessary.

Donna and her husband, Mike, are starting their sixth year operating the Children's Party Wagon out of their Smithsburg home. They provide a variety of children's entertainment throughout the Tri-State area for parties, picnics, grand openings, festivals, fairs and other events.

As the holiday season approaches, they also are touting their latest innovation. With one Santa Claus and one elf, a visit to a private home can be arranged.

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"We pose for pictures and provide a balloon sculpture as part of the visit," Donna said.

The parents stow the gifts outside so Santa can load them up in his bag before going into the home.

The visits were new last Christmas season, and Donna said they had two calls for the private visits.

"We can adjust to any needs whether it be all day or for one hour," Donna said.

In all, the Children's Party Wagon includes one barn manager, seven pony ride attendants, eight clowns, six magicians, one puppeteer, eight holiday costume figures, six other costume characters and two moon bounce units.

"I'm Jingles the Elf as well as Sunshine the Clown," Donna said. On the side, she does a little magic.

The operation is year round, Mike said. "We did one party with the ponies that was like a winter wonderland," he said. "The client used the pictures for Christmas cards."

While Donna is a Maryland native, Mike hails from California.

"We met in Germany and spent the next 10 years in California," Donna said. They decided to move back to Maryland so Donna could be near her family again.

The couple has two children, Jennifer, 6, and Heather, 4.

"When we lived in California, we did pony rides," Donna said, noting that she grew up around horses. "We have always loved kids and animals."

Mike said their nine ponies are kept in a barn in back of their home. Part of the service is cleaning up after the ponies, Mike pointed out.

"We do nine festivals a year with the ponies," he said. The rest of the time, the ponies are available for picnics and parties of all kinds.

Donna said some of the clowns and magicians are full time and many are retired people who love to work with children.

Now that they are settled in the Smithsburg area, Donna keeps busy with the party wagon and a day-care center in her home. Mike is a lab analyst for Lenox Inc.

For more information on the Children's Party Wagon and their rates, call 301-824-2044 or visit their Web site at www.childrenspartywagon.net.

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