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WeBe the Clown: 'This is something I can do'

Wilbur Frost, or 'WeBe,' is commonly seen performing in downtown York.

It takes Wilbur Frost a couple seconds to blow up a balloon and concoct it into a dog behind his back.

It's not as easy for a random 12-year-old who encountered Frost on South George Street en route to Martin Library one Friday afternoon. 

Frost gets excited when he challenges the kid to blow up a balloon. Excited in the way a street performer gets when he's trying to playfully challenge an innocent child.

"I can't do it," the kid says through a frustrated giggle.

That angers Frost. Angers him insomuch as a street performer gets with a child he's trying to amuse. "'I can't' is the worst thing you can say," Frost tells the kid. "Ask for help."

Frost, known as WeBe when he's performing as a clown, is commonly spotted outside Central Market, in front of Po's Bookstore or anywhere else a crowd might exist. But many who frequent downtown don't know much about the man behind the clown.

He doesn't dress up and interact with strangers every day. Only when God moves him, he says.

The 49-year-old admits he suffers from antisocial disorder. "Of all things," he says.

Crafting balloons, playing a harmonica and corralling his rabbit, Mr. No-No, on a city sidewalk helps Frost lighten up. He didn't plan to stay very long in York, but he's called it his home for about five years.

Frost, born in Maine to a Mennonite family, insists he doesn't want a handout. He'll make a couple bucks in a day's work, sometimes less than $5 in 12 hours, but at least he's working for it.

And he's been a great addition to the neighborhood, says Kevin "Po" Bertram, owner of Po's Bookstore at 25 S. George St. in York. "He's fun, exciting and he's great with the kids," Bertram says. And he always comes with something new. 

Frost's gigs — typically balloon animals and a harmonica but sometimes a marionette or face paint — tend to cost more than they are worth. 

He has had other jobs, but they've never panned out. Frost might be able to qualify for disability, he figures, with his bad back, hips and knees. He gets by on Social Security income, which doesn't leave him much after he covers his rent and bills.

He can't get anywhere without either a ride or 85 cents to take the bus, which he'll board with a wire cart full of apparatuses and Mr. No-No in a port-a-cage.

"It gets me out of my house," Frost says. "But this is not me. This is the clown. If you put a mental face on, you can do anything. I want to do something. This is something I can handle."