By Charlie Patton
Courtesy of The Florida Times-Union
During the week, he’s officer Chris Wyatt, a veteran of 24 years with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
His beat is the streets of downtown Jacksonville, which he patrols on foot.
On weekends, Wyatt becomes Mr. C., a Christian clown who performs at kids parties, church festivals and other events.
About a decade ago, Wyatt, the father of three, was working a lot of off- duty jobs to help pay for the home he and his wife, Evelyn, had purchased in Argyle Forest.
“I was missing home life, my family and my church,” he said.
He got an idea for a different way to make some extra cash.
“I had a vision of balloons,”’Wyatt said.
He set up shop at the Pecan Park flea market, making and selling balloon animals.
He made about $75 that first day. Another vendor told him that if he wanted to get more attention and sell more balloon animals, he should dress as a clown. So Wyatt strapped on a big red nose.
“I definitely got more attention,” he said.
He also got a job offer from someone who wanted him to perform at a children’s party.
“I went home and told my wife, ‘I’m going into the clown business,’ ” Wyatt said. “… I have not worked an off-duty job since then.”
As he’s gotten older, he’s found the physical demands of being a clown a challenge.
“I can’t be doing all that hopping,” Wyatt said.
To compensate, he has added Bob the Train, a trackless train with an engine and four cars in which passengers can ride.
A native of Fort Wayne, Ind., Wyatt came to Jacksonville while in the Navy. After leaving the Navy, he stayed, working as a civilian at Jacksonville Naval Air Station. He joined the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in September 1989, and is planning to retire in December 2014. His mother, Willie Wyatt, still lives in Fort Wayne.
But he’ll keep being Mr. C, keep running Bob the Train and making his balloon animals.
“God has blessed my talents and gifts,” he said.