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Clowning around is his favorite way to have a good time


© St. Petersburg Times, published January 30, 2001

James Galloway
Jim Galloway, whose registered clown name is "Jimbo," is active in the Fun 'n' Frolic Clown Unit of Egypt Shrine of Tampa, performing throughout the year at Shrine hospitals and parades.

"This is my first love, now," he said. "I have so much fun with the kids."

He delivers Meals on Wheels three or four days a week, visits nursing homes for Hospice and does bereavement counseling, taking time off from those rounds when they become emotionally overwhelming.

He also plays drums and belonged to a bagpipe band.

"I've kind of gotten away from that now because I reserve one day a week just for myself to play golf," he said.

He has just finished a stint as Santa Claus, visiting nursing homes, preschool and elementary school children and hospitals.

"During the holidays I sort of live in the Santa suit," he said.

Galloway said he realized his dream of playing Santa 29 years ago.

"My wife, Flo, made my first Santa suit (he is on his third one now), and I began playing Santa for the Bowling Green (Ohio) City Recreation Department and for the Shrine in Toledo.

"My mother, Ruth Galloway, always loved Christmas, and she loved to dress up for Halloween. She was my motivation," he said.

When he retired in 1983 as an administrator at Bowling Green State University, he and Flo moved to Palm Harbor.

"I started being Santa at malls for awhile, but that was just too commercial, so I'm a volunteer Santa now and do about 50 engagements during the holidays, performing at nursing homes, hospitals and elementary and preschools.

"If you can bring a little joy into the life of someone in a nursing home or to a sick child, that is the biggest reward ever."

Each Christmas, Galloway helps with food distribution to needy families and distributes presents to disadvantaged children.

He assists in raising funds for children who are burn victims and is active with East Lake Fire and Rescue.

The Galloways have three children. Son Scott and daughter Julie Hughes live in Bowling Green and son Jeff in Denver.

Galloway enjoys clowning around with the couple's 13 grandchildren.

He attributes his upbeat attitude to his mother, who was a jokester, and his love of volunteering to his father.

"My father was a role model," he said. "Volunteering was a way of life for him, especially with the Salvation Army."

In his first job with the YMCA, Galloway said, he became aware of volunteers' importance in the community.

The Rochester, N.Y., and Vicinity Club of West Pasco submitted Galloway's name to the National Chiefs of Police Association, requesting that his volunteer efforts be recognized.

Many of its members are retired law enforcement officers, and president Charles Salvaggio nominated Galloway, even though he is not a member.

The organization named him a Knight Chevalier of the Venerable Order of the Knights of Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of law enforcement, and he was given the medal and certificate, the association's highest honor, at a lunch in December.

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