“I’ve been doing clowning for 16 years,” said Steven Short, the city’s new IT support specialist who goes by the clown name Dooley when in costume.
Short said his start in clowning came after a back injury.
“I have steel bolts and plates in my back,” he said.
Short said while recovering from his injury, his wife, Cindy, brought him a book on balloon animals and face painting.
“She gave me the book and said, ‘Have fun,’” he said. “I learned everything in the book in about 3-4 months. I began attending classes and checking out other books, and learning to create my own designs (for balloon animals).”
Short said he performs pocket magic, such as card tricks and pulling scarves from his hands, in addition to balloon animals and face painting.
“The best trick I probably have is the disappearing card trick,” he said. “I show a card to the audience, then when they look through the deck of cards they can’t find it. Then I throw the deck of cards at something like a balloon, and the balloon pops and the card they are looking for is inside the balloon.”
Short said he has done clown work for Vent Kids of Alabama for about four years.
“The creator of that organization goes to church with me,” he said. “I have also done some work for Magic Town Clowns in Birmingham.”
Short said he has also trained at Magic City Clown School at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, which trains clowns to work in hospital and similar healthcare settings.
The Shorts have four children, Wesley, 16, Nathan, 13, Sarah, 7, and Grace, one-and-a-half.
“I have one kid learning to drive and one still in diapers,” he said. “I have a child who has special needs, so I understand an awful lot of the struggles parents go through with that.”
Short said he has been an assistant scout master for seven years.
“My oldest son is an Eagle Scout, and my youngest son is trying to get there,” he said.
Short said his oldest son clowns around with him. The family currently lives in McCalla, but plans to eventually move to the Pell City area.
“We home-school, but my oldest son is in numerous extracurricular activities,” he said. “We will move to Pell City after he graduates.”
In addition to his clowning, Short has about 13 years experience in IT.
“I come from InLine, which does vendor support for Pell City, and I’m familiar with the systems,” he said.
Short said he now performs much of the city’s IT work in-house.
“I do a lot of the IT work that vendors used to provide, and also work on the phone system, time clock, all the remote and virtual desktops — the city’s infrastructure,” he said.
Short said vendors are still utilized in certain situations, but only if it involves product or contract issues.
“We will always have vendors,” he said. “Vendors will always exist because there are certain things the city can’t provide itself.”
Short said he will serve as liaison between the city and the vendors.
“The city wanted to move as much in-house as possible,” he said. “I’ve already paid for my salary this month and then some (in-house savings). And it will grow because the month is not over, and I only started on Sept. 12.”
Short said bringing the city’s IT in-house will result in substantial savings to the city.
Contact Elsie Hodnett at email@example.com.