Chair of Imaging makes tradition of clowning around on Thanksgiving

Dr. Meza (center) with his son-in-law and daughter in last year's Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit.

Dr. Mezwa (center) with his son-in-law and daughter in last year’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit.

As you’re watching America’s Thanksgiving parade this year, keep an eye out for Duane Mezwa, M.D., Beaumont’s corporate chair of Imaging Services. He’ll be the one in make-up, a wig and a cape as a member of the Distinguished Clown Corps.

“I’ve been a member of the Distinguished Clown Corps for 18 years now,” he says. “You’re marching with the movers and shakers in Detroit but because we’re all in costume, you can’t tell who is who. It’s a fun way to start the holiday season.”

Dr. Mezwa “got hooked,” as he says, on being a clown when one of his colleagues, Greg Raiss, M.D., from Radiology at Beaumont Hospital, Troy nominated him to be in the corps. “You have to be nominated to join,” he says. “You then make a donation to The Parade Company and enjoy the experience. You work with some wonderful ladies in the costume department at The Parade
Company, so that’s all provided for you. For a while there, every year I would get a new nose, but I’ve changed direction so now I’m into wild glasses.”

At 5:30 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, Dr. Mezwa and his family report to the Boll Family YMCA in Detroit for costume and makeup. Professionals are on-hand to apply just the right amount of face paint to transform him from doctor to clown. The clowns load onto a bus in full costume to take their place in line in the parade.

“We take a group photo just before boarding the busses,” he says. “Sometimes we have to wait on the bus for a while before the parade starts. We’re an anxious group of clowns.”

When they find their place in the parade, they load up their arms with beaded necklaces to toss into the crowd. “The fun part is giving the beads to the kids,” he says. “I can remember so many neat instances where you give beads to a little girl who asks you for more so her brother can have some, too. One year I saw one of my Beaumont colleagues at the parade, so I covered him with silly string. It’s a great event and a great way to give back to the city.”

His family is very supportive of his clowning around (he even went to a one-day clown school). His daughter and son-in-law have been marching with him the last several years, while the rest of the
family goes early and gets a seat in the bleachers to “watch Dad go by,” he says. “Sometimes there are so many people that all you can see is a sea of people. It’s the quickest three-mile walk you can ever imagine.”

Tune in to WDIV Channel 4 Thanksgiving morning to see if you can spot Dr. Mezwa in America’s Thanksgiving Parade. The fun begins at 8:45 a.m.

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