YOU SEE HER DRESSED as a clown blowing up balloons and shaping them for children at Taneytown's Heritage Days and the city's annual flower show.
But the lady behind the clown mask is serious about her work. Susan Reifsnider, who runs a small business from her home in Taneytown, has always been interested in entertaining people.
"I always helped my parents put parties together, even as a young child," Reifsnider recalled. "I would have a ball. I'm not a quote, party person, unquote. I just like to put them together."
Reifsnider hasn't always done parties professionally. She earned her teaching degree from Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., graduating in 1991. She also studied nursing at the college for three years.
But instead of teaching at a public school, Reifsnider took her talents and teaching credentials to the YMCA in Westminster and in Frederick County. She also worked in Home Health Care at Frederick Memorial Hospital.
Reifsnider said she felt stagnant in her work and wanted to find something that would be a better fit.
One day Reifsnider said she decided it was time to go into business for herself doing what she had always enjoyed most: making others happy.
"I started from scratch," she said. "I sat down at my computer one day and came up with 82 different ideas for parties. These were packages. There were circus parties, card parties, Civil War parties, dinosaur parties and more."
She and her husband bought the home they live in now, where the business is located, in February 1998. Then she set out to make it in the party business.
"The first year I was working another job," she said. "I had about 20 parties booked. By January of 1999, I decided this was what I was going to do. It was going to be a make-or-break situation."
For this creative woman, it became a make situation.
"Word-of-mouth was my advertising," she said.
By August, she had added a shop to the business.
"The part where the shop is now, well, that had been our television room," Reifsnider said with a laugh. "I hope one day to have a separate room for children's books."
Reifsnider considers herself "kid-oriented." Until she became too busy, she organized "Friday Night Live," a creative arts program for first- through third-graders, at Grace United Church of Christ in Taneytown.
She organized last year's Halloween Parade in Taneytown. But Reifsnider has another pet project to which she is devoting her time.
"Daryl Hale, Brian Long, Vicki Wisner and I are organizing a foundation to help set up a community center here in Taneytown," Reifsnider said.
April Fool's dance
Lehigh/Brookfield Manor Softball Club will present an Oldies Dance from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. April 1 at Taneytown Activities Building.
Music will be by DJ Daryl "D-Man" Long. Cost is $7 per person in advance and $8 at the door.
Jean Marie Beall's Northwest neighborhood column appears each Thursday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.