The combination of Corey Clown's (aka Donna Peacocke) pink wig and red-dotted nose was enough to draw smiles from the dozen children whose faces she painted at the Children's Museum of Northern Nevada Sunday afternoon; but just to be sure those smiles stayed - she decided to "paint 'em on."
The face-painting, balloon-animal wielding sprite clad in a yellow jumpsuit said she'll return Saturday, Aug. 18 for the museum's annual "Kids Karnival," one of its biggest fundraisers.
Though a kids' museum get-together sounds like a pedestrian day filled with bubble blowing contests, arts and crafts and sticky candy wrapper-covered floors, this year's day of fun and games portends to mean much more, volunteers said.
"This area really needs this museum, but this museum needs people to volunteer for it," said museum spokeswoman Mary Ann Weiss.
Weiss, a Dayton resident who is closing out her first decade working at the museum, reminisced about volunteers of days gone by as she gestured to a new generation of children giggling and spinning in the downtown Carson museum's main playroom.
"The biggest reward is seeing volunteers come back," she said. "One former volunteer recently paid a visit - he worked here from when he was 12 to when he was 19. Now he's 22 and going to culinary school. He came by and introduced me to his girlfriend.
"That, more than anything, is what keeps me coming back - but we need more of kids like that to come in and help."
Along with raising money to keep the museum's doors open, the carnival will also "raise awareness" Carson-based volunteer Penny Holbrook said.
"More than anything we need to get the information out there - the history of the museum, and the fact that there's a lot kids can do here, kids of all ages - it's really a wonderful place to be," she said.
As if on cue, tiny screams of joy emanated from the museum's "operating room" where two local children, faces painted in reds and greens and yellows, were busy "helping a patient."
"I'm the doctor here," said Dayton resident Sarah Sorich, 6, whose stethoscope hung almost to her knees. When asked if she planned on coming back next week, she smiled. "Yes - we come here every week. And I'm going to get my face painted ... again."
Sarah's mother, Renee Sorich, tended to younger sister, Alison, 10 months, in the toddler's play area - confirming her oldest daughter's missive.
"Yes, we're here almost every weekend - we have a pass," Sorich said. "It is a really great place, and I can bring both (daughters) without having to worry about them."
Museum organizers said they hope next weekend's event will draw families from throughout the area - just as the museum has all summer.
"Why today alone we had a family from Long Beach, Calif., Fallon and Reno," Holbrook said.
Carson residents Kathy Knecht and her daughter Karen, 6, said they both felt lucky the museum is in their hometown. Plans for making a day out of next week's carnival are already in the works.
"We like coming here, don't we?" Karen gestured to her mother. "And we like clowns."
If you go
What: The Children's Museum of Northern Nevada's Kids Karnival
When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18
Featuring: Corey Clown, McGruff the Crime Fighting Dog, Smokey the Bear, face painting, mini golf, a cake walk, crafts tables, a dunk tank and other games and prizes
Museum volunteers will also be on hand to present information about its volunteer program. Those wanting more information can call museum director Jim Peckham at 884-2226 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
• Andrew Pridgen can be reached at email@example.com.