Weary Willie Day 2022: History, Significance and Celebrations

Weary Willie Day is annually celebrated on December 9th, this day celebrates Weary Willie the clown character played by Emmett Kelly on his birthday

Weary Willie Day is annually celebrated on December 9th. This day celebrates and honors the clown character of Weary Willie played by Emmett Kelly, a famous circus performer. 

Weary Willie, as the name suggests, is a clown who wears his smile upside down and the day is a tribute to the character popularised by circus performer Emmett Kelly during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

That's why to honor him and his legacy the day is now being celebrated on Emmett Kelly's birthday. As he played an important role in revolutionizing the professional clown industry and became the most familiar clown of the country.  

Event Weary Willie Day
Date December 9, 2022
Day Friday
Significance The day celebrates and honors the clown character of Weary Willie played by Emmett Kelly
Observed by United States


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Weary Willie Day History: 

The story starts with Emmett Leo Kelly who was the son of an Irish railroad worker born on 9th December, 1898 in Sedan, Kansas. He went to a school for cartooning when he was young and entertained everyone as an actor. As a teenager, he moved to Kansas and tried to find a job as an artist. After many rejections, he got a job at a carnival. While working as a trapeze artist in 1923, he met his wife Eva Moore and together they performed as "Aerial Kelleys". 

At that time, he used to occasionally dress up as a white-faced clown, which he had designed 10 years earlier. Weary Willie was usually seen as a sad figure sweeping the circus floor after performances. Weary Willie became popular during the depression time because Weary Willie's character seemed to be sadder than others who were going through a tough and hard time during Depression-era. So the character to bring smile to one's face who had nothing to be happy about became fascination for the people.   

Weary Willie always appeared in his typical white face, bright colored clothes with sad activities which somehow made others feel better about themselves. The Weary Willie character came into the scene in 1933. One of his famous performances was 'Weary Willie trying to crack a peanut with a sledgehammer.' This role became revolutionary as it was based on the tramps of the Depression-era.

He later died aged 80 on Match 28, 1979 leaving a huge legacy behind him. While the first occurrence of this holiday is not clear, the day coincides with the birthday of Kelly, who was inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame in 1989 and the International Circus Hall of Fame in 1994. The model of the sad clown continues to remind us to take life's troubles with a pinch of salt. Hence this day is used to pay tribute to this legend of the clowning profession.  


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Weary Willie Day Significance: 

Emmett Kelly is today largely celebrated and remembered because Kelly's creation of Weary Willie revolutionized professional clowning and made him the country's most familiar clown. The sad-sack, shuffling antics of his unkempt, downtrodden hobo offered a complete contrast to the madcap cavorting of brightly colored, white-faced conventional clowns and has served as an alternate model for professional clowns ever since. So he created a huge impact and change in the professional clowning and circus industry. 

Just like Depression-era audiences liked to watch Weary Willie because it made them re-evaluate the hopelessness of their own circumstances, Weary Willie Day reminds us of all the things that we need to be grateful for. As no matter how much worse the situations get eventually it is gonna be improved and hence instead of worrying about what we doesn't have we should be grateful for what we have today and should try to find moments of happiness and joy from it and that's what Weary Willie offered to the people, fun and happiness in times of their crisis. 

Weary Willie day is celebrated to appreciate the art of clowning and its impact on our lives. Nowadays clowns are feared as they are associated with bad things, which shows how distorted the world has become; that which was funny has become fearful. So let's celebrate this Weary Willie Day to remember that Clowns are good and fun, not the ones to be feared about! So this day encourages people to appreciate the art of clowning even though cirkus and clowning has declined greatly in today's world. 

As a part of his legacy, Kelly's boyhood town of Houston, Missouri, named Emmett Kelly Park in his honor and hosted an annual Emmett Kelly Clown Festival, which attracted clowns from across the region, including Kelly's grandson, Joey Kelly, who returned every year to perform as a special guest. According to Joey Kelly's website, the festival ended its 21-year run in May 2008. And obviously we have this day celebrating and remembering his legacy. 


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Weary Willie Day Celebrations: 

Of course, a great way to celebrate the day is to turn into a clown ourselves. It is a chance for us to get creative with our own unique interpretation of our clown personality and to manifest it through make-up and clothes. Try to put on a makeup of Weary Willie character to mark this day and pay tribute to the legend. Then you can also make others aware about it by sharing your photos and videos on social media. 

You can also use this occasion to read about circus, clowns and their life on the internet. Learn more about the life of Emmett Kelly you will find many amazing stories. You can also watch the movie "The Greatest Show on Earth" in which Emmett Kelly played the role of Weary Willie. Also, try to watch the TV show "What's My Line?" in which Weary Willie was a Mystery Guest. 

If you're really in the mood for serious fun, travel to Wisconsin to visit the International Clown Hall of Fame or to Indiana, which houses the International Circus Hall of Fame, or even to the Emmett Kelly Museum in his birthplace of Sedan, Kansas. In this way you will get to learn more about him and his profession while having a fun and entertaining time touring these places. 

Most Searched FAQs on Weary Willie Day: 

1. When is Weary Willie Day celebrated? 

Weary Willie Day is annually celebrated on December 9th. 

2. What does Weary Willie Day commemorates? 

Weary Willie Day commemorates the birth anniversary of Emmett Kelly, the man who played the legendary clown character of Weary Willie. 

3. What is the meaning of Weary Willie? 

The meaning of Weary Willie is 'one who avoids or dislikes work', a general truancy by the Weary Willies, leaving the work-gluttons to do their share and do it better Manchester Guardian Weekly. specifically : tramp. the railroad had helped to create the Weary Willie S. H. Holbrook.

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