"When I made my first balloon for a child [over a decade ago], their smile really made an impact on me. From that moment on, I knew this is what I wanted to keep doing."
Dan Dufek, a Medina resident for over 20 years and owner of Danimal Clown Entertainment, has been clowning for almost 15 years — since his father introduced him to the craft when he was 28.
"My dad did clowning for charity events for 15 years," Dan says. "One day, he told me that his assistant couldn't show up to an upcoming event and asked if I wanted to do it with him. When I said 'yes,' he gave me a three-day crash course in balloon twisting. That's when I learned my first balloons — a sword, dog, parrot, bumblebee, hummingbird and a basic hat. After the crash course, I did my first event with my fathers and there were over 100 kids!"
Now, Dan knows over 1,000 different balloon creations, ranging from exotic animals to cartoon characters like Sonic the Hedgehog, Mario, Spiderman and Batman. He's also known as one of the fastest balloon twisters in the area and offers balloon art as a clown (with makeup and big clown shoes) or without clown attire. Although, that's not all he can do — if you can even believe it.
Dan is a great teacher and loves showing kids how to make things at parties. He also loves to juggle and teach kids how to do so. Additional things that he offers are custom centerpieces, flower bouquets, indoor columns and outdoor yard art.
“I am always learning new things and expanding on what I already know,” Dan says. "Also, I make it a point to make every balloon creation an experience for the child. I love to interact with them and my goal is to captivate their attention and bring a smile to their face."
Although he got his start in charity events, Dan now primarily spends his time doing birthday parties, festivals and community events across Northeast Ohio. One unique thing that he brings to every event is a large menu with around 100 balloon choices for children to choose from. This allows children to get a vision of each balloon creation. Dan has several different menu boards that he uses interchangeably depending on the theme of the event. He also brings stickers for the kids and other cool things to give to them while he's working.
In addition to in-person parties, Dan offers various virtual party options — a service he started providing during the pandemic. He also has a birthday-in-a-bag option, where he prepares a number of balloon creations and assembles them in a bag so that the child can have them on their birthday.
"I also offer the birthday-in-a-bag service if I am booked and can't attend the child's birthday party," Dan says. "I book out pretty far ahead and I recommend that people reach out to me at least 30 days in advance — more if possible."
One of the many reasons that Dan books so far in advance is because of his solid reputation in Northeast Ohio. He is well-known for having great communication and timeliness so planning an event with him is stress-free. Dan also loves working with entertainers in the area and will occasionally bring in others to do face painting, pony rides, magic shows and more.
When it comes to the next generation of Danimal Clown Entertainment, Dan already has a young prodigy, his 10-year-old niece Lexi.
"I am currently training Lexi and she loves it," Dan says. "She'll come to parties with me sometimes and when people ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, she says, 'I want to be a clown like my uncle Danimal.'"
To learn more about Danimal Clown Entertainment and to book an event with him, visit DanimalClown.com. Also, follow Dan on Instagram Instagram.com/DanimalClown and on Facebook at Facebook.com/DanimalClown.