Robert Dillon, known better to his fans as Otto the Clown, visits patients at the St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children in Bayside.
The 83-year-old is known to be a bit silly.
“There’s something about a red nose,” Dillon said. “It’s just when you put it on, something happens.”
What You Need To Know
- Robert Dillon has been visiting St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children as Otto the Clown for two decades
- Before starting up at St. Mary’s, Dillon clowned around at hospitals around the country during his down time working as a traveling salesman
- He plays with hospital patients and shows them close-up magic
The Glen Oaks resident started clowning around after seeing a story in the local paper 30 years ago.
He was a traveling salesman who often needed to kill time before flying home.
“I was having Saturdays alone, nothing to do,” Dillon said. “So I decided to bring my costume with me.”
He visited 20 hospitals around the country, as Otto. Dillon brought his talents to St. Mary’s almost two decades ago.
“The children enjoy if you just spend an honest hour with them,” he said.
It’s not a show so much as a time to joke around with children who are going through a lot. Dillon plays with their toys, talks with them and does close-up magic.
He keeps at it even when the kids aren’t as excited to be there as he is.
“You’re scared of clowns?” Dillon asked one patient at St. Mary’s.
“No... A little bit,” the patient replied.
When he isn’t playing Otto, Dillon is an extra pair of hands at the hospital.
Dillon has logged over 1,900 hours since volunteer hours started being tracked in 2016.
“It was just the building,” Dillon said. “There’s something about St. Mary’s and me. I just like coming here. I like using the bathroom.”
A sentiment he shares about joking around.
“It just feels like I was a clown one time in many years, or in another life,” he said. “So I feel at home when I’m, when I’m in clowning.”
For bringing smiles to children who may need it most, Robert Dillon is our New Yorker of the Week.