Donald Shirley Foster (1920-1994) was many things over his lifetime, a husband, a Canadian National Railway train engineer, a Belleville Alderman, and a CLOWN.
Don grew up in Belleville, Ontario 88 Grier Street with parents and two siblings. He would marry Rita Douglas (1918-2008) and have one child, William Alexander "Billy"(1939-1958). It was December 24, 1958, when Billy and friend, Arthur (Sonny) Culloden were both killed in a car accident. To both Don and Rita, this was devastating losing their only son. Starting in 1959, they had an enormous display of Christmas lights in tribute to their son and Sonny. This tradition carried on until 1980 when it became difficult for Don to erect the display due to age and health. The light show was then carried on by the various persons of Belleville until the city took on the tribute a few years back, which can be seen leading up to Christmas every year a Jane Forrester Park.
Don had a love of children, probably a result of losing his only son created Belleville's Clown Troop and performed at parades across Ontario. His troop made up of various floats, wonky bikes, motorized bathtubs, antique car and much more and was always a hit with the kids. The Troop had many regulars which included, Kammer's, Lentini's, Pope's and many others.
I can remember one very precarious experienceswhile attending Parades with Don. It was in the small town of Wilberforce, Ontario (Summer 1976) where at the age of 14 drove a Rupster, which was a little mud buggy with large tires. I did not realize it, but all four tires were not firmly on the ground with one raised slightly. When I gunned it and turned the buggy sharply, the wheels didn't turn as tight as expected and I came within inches of small children sitting along the curb, to oohs and ahhs. They thought it was part of the act and I was sweating bullets after the close call. I attended many events with Don, including Grey Cup Parades, Santa Claus Parades and many other types. I even got Jim Nabors autograph at the Ottawa Grey cup parade, as he was the Grand Marshall.