Benefit dinner helps Sparky the Clown with medical bills

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - People attended a benefit dinner at American Legion 357 Saturday, to help a popular local entertainer with medical bills.

When you ask people to describe Barry Naragon, otherwise known as Sparky the Crown, they will tell you he has a big heart, and gives back to the community.

He has been entertaining crowds at birthday parties, parades, schools and give-back nights for three decades.

“He did it for everybody, whether he knew you or not. If he knew there was a cause, he stepped up and helped,” said childhood friend, Chris Moore.

“My dad has done so much for the community. He started clowning when I was probably sixteen years old,” said son, Steve Naragon.

About two years ago, Naragon was diagnosed with essential tremor, a nervous system disorder that causes shaking and usually targets a person's dominant hand.

Naragon struggled to do basic things.

“My dad has always been a happy guy, always joking and he still does, but just to see when he gets tired, when he starts shaking, and the frustration. You can tell it was hard on him. It’s made us sad to see him that way,” Naragon said.

Last August, he had a deep-brain stimulation operation, which helped him become more self-sufficient.

Those medical bills, however, are stacking up.

For a man so giving, it came as no surprise when over a thousand people showed up at his benefit dinner.

“Yeah, the amount of support is extremely overwhelming,” Naragon said.

“And the amount of tip items and things that were donated. There was an entire trailer full of stuff. I’ve done events for thousands of people, and you don't get that much donated. So that speaks volumes for what he did for everybody,” Moore said.

Today, Naragon said he is starting to work on building back strength.

He is doing a lot of cooking these days, chores, and is back entertaining.

“Feeling great,” said Barry Naragon.

He said this event meant a lot.

"Thank you so much for doing this…for all the people,” Naragon said.

They hope to raise about $15,000.