What kind of blizzard gets dozens of Kirkland Children’s School kids off their feet, running in circles and screaming with glee? A soapy bubble blizzard, of course.
“You can make one bubble and they just go out of their mind chasing after it. I was making bubbles the size of hippopotamus,” says Seattle’s Gary Golightly, more commonly known as The Bubbleman.
Gary has been performing bubble shows in 45 countries for the past 33 years.
“I do birthdays, weddings, divorces, daycare centers, schools, grand openings, nursing homes, company picnics, foreclosings, upsizings, downsizings, family reunions, fairs, festivals, flea markets, farmers markets and seven funerals.”
Yes, he’s blown bubbles at seven funerals, but we’ll get to that later.
“What did one bubble say to the other bubble? The only thing we have to sphere is sphere itself.” Gary puns.
The Bubbleman is 60 years old.
“I’m gonna be 61 on July 22nd but doing this keeps me half young. The children give me energy. Their laughter gives me energy.”
The Bubbleman has a purple beard, is partial to tie-die T-shirts and purple overalls and no matter what country or decade he’s performing in, children love him.
“He’s awesome! He’s really good at bubbles! I liked it when he put the toilet seat on his head and then he bumped his nose,” a group of Kirkland Children’s School chime in.
Gary uses all sorts of odds and ends to make his bubbles.
“Oh, everything from recycled products from thrift stores and kitchen shops and stuff I find on a beach. Netting, tennis rackets, fly swatters, sticks and strings that make gigantic bubbles.”
He doesn’t think kids need things from a toy store to have fun.
“I really am sorry that children are being given Walmart, Coke or Pepsi, Gap, Old Navy, Nike, Disney, Nickelodeon, Nintendo, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Power Ranger, Barney, Beanie Baby, Teletubby, Pokemon, Game Boy and XBox. That the video games are taking over children’s lives and they’re not outside getting fresh air and sunshine.”
So back to the funerals, Gary has brought his bubbles to seven services and burials.
“I answered the phone, I said, ‘Hi, it’s The Bubbleman.’ The mother said, ‘Bubbleman, I have to cancel Ryan’s fourth birthday tomorrow. You were booked for him.’ I said, ‘Sure, we’ll do his fifth birthday.’ She goes, ‘Well, no, he died. Do you do funerals?’ I did a funeral for a murdered child that was left in a trash can. Last year, I did a grandmother’s funeral. She used to bring her grandkids to Carkeek Park, which is my hometown. In her funeral, in the directions, she said, ‘I want the Bubbleman at my service.'”
Gary performs year round, sometimes up to three times a day, and he hopes to inspire the parents as much as the kids.
“When you’ve got a two-and-a-half year old laughing out of control, you know you’re doing good. I want the adults to do this for their own kids. Act like a child for your children. Make them laugh. Put an umbrella over your head, slip out of your chair, trip up the stairs. Just get them laughing.”