Originally published Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 4:24 PM

J.P. Patches, a half century of giggles, gags and laughs

Seattle TV legend J.P. Patches, and the man who brought him to life, Chris Wedes, will have their final public appearance Saturday at Seattle's Fishermen's Terminal.

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LEGIONS of Patches Pals bid a fond farewell to J.P. Patches, and his alter-ego Chris Wedes, as they edge toward retirement after a half century sporting a big red nose.

J.P.'s final public appearance is Saturday at the Fishermen's Fall Festival at Seattle's Fishermen's Terminal. Seattle's beloved clown has been entertaining families at the event to promote fishing-industry safety and remember those lost at sea, since it began 23 years ago.

That is less than half the time J. P. has been part of the community's soul. The character came to life with KIRO-TV in 1958 and ran for decades. J.P. and sidekick Gertrude, Bob Newman, the clown princess who needed a shave, were on the tube to send children off to school and welcome them home.

J.P. has been a fixture at public and private events, parades and any setting that needed a laugh and sympathetic ear for children and their nostalgia-filled parents.

As noted by a fan in a Seattle Times profile by reporter Jack Broom, J.P.'s gags and patter with the crowd "never gets old, never goes out of style." Everyone loves J.P. Patches.

Wedes' character came along with early local TV programming and helped stir complaints about kids staying indoors decades before video games. America's youth were guided to "Popeye" and "Clutch Cargo" by hundreds and hundreds of hometown TV hosts.

In Yakima it was "Mr. Bob's Cartoon Classics" and the "Captain Cy Show" in Spokane. Portland had "Rusty Nails" and "Heck Harper."

Wedes, 83, told Broom he was raised and encouraged to "leave a mark." As the entertainer's schedule adjusts to advancing age and health issues, one point is clear: J.P. Patches touched lives and warmed hearts. A profound gift and, indeed, an indelible mark in a grateful community.


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